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American Bar Association Resolution 107A

On Monday, February 22, 2021, the American Bar Association (ABA) voted to adopt Resolution 107A, which opposes the criminalization of people who have abortions. In the U.S., five states have laws that explicitly criminalize self-managed abortions (Arizona, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Delaware, and Nevada), and many other states continuously seek to prosecute people who exercise their constitutional right to abortion.

The new resolution, which comes from the nation’s largest and oldest organization of legal professionals, opposes the criminal prosecution of any person for having an abortion, or for suffering a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other pregnancy outcomes. This resolution also urges federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to repeal and oppose statutes that criminalize people for termination of pregnancies. Resolution 107A further urges said governments to clarify that existing laws may not be used to prosecute any person for having an abortion, or for other pregnancy outcomes.

This resolution was co-sponsored by the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, the Criminal Justice Section, the Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice, the Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities, the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, the Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, and the Law Student Division.

Resolution 107A acknowledges that reproductive autonomy is a constitutional right and that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increased risk of unintended pregnancies. The ABA characterizes the increasing criminalization of people who have abortions and miscarriages as a “disturbing trend” calling for a direct response from the legal profession. The ABA aligns Resolution 107A with the national outcry for an end to police violence and over-criminalization of communities of color.

This resolution will not be treated as an ABA policy until it is approved by the House of Delegates.

References:

American Bar Association, Resolution 107A, https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/directories/policy/midyear-2021/107a-midyear-2021.pdf 

If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, Press Release: ABA Takes Historic Vote Against Criminalizing People Who Have Abortions (Feb. 22, 2021), https://www.ifwhenhow.org/press-release-aba-resolution-self-managed-abortion-criminalization/?fbclid=IwAR3Q_v8qhSJnNPasZ0fllt1szTcJFuQAHzpBt2qj01RTjPG2hFJ8f4MQpzU

Compiled by Shea Roodberg, Shurberg Legal & Policy Intern and student at University of Baltimore School of Law

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