Maricopa County Attorney candidate says she won’t enforce 15-week abortion ban
Mar 30, 2022, 10:27 AM | Updated: 12:50 pm
(Facebook Photo/Julie Gunnigle)
PHOENIX — A Democratic candidate for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said Wednesday she would not enforce a bill signed by Gov. Doug Ducey that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Julie Gunnigle told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show that she would rather focus efforts of the office on crimes that attack the most vulnerable.
“This comes down to prosecutorial discretion because the Maricopa County attorney gets to choose which crimes to prioritize,” she said. “I have committed that I’m not going to use the discretion of the county attorney’s office to target people for their health care choices.”
Gunnigle said enforcing every law on the books is troubling because that means there will be a police officer or a prosecutor in every doctor’s office when people go to pick up contraceptives and in every abortion clinic across Arizona.
“That means they’ll be spending their time and taxpayer money going after people for their health care,” she said.
“I want to use this office to prioritize the crimes that impact the public the most and those are the crimes that attack our most vulnerable – women, children and our seniors and particularly acts of violence.”
Gunnigle adds that if Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case that made abortion legal, were to fall, the county attorney’s office will be able to prosecute women not just for abortion but for birth control as well.
She said prosecutorial discretion is already happening as about 50,000 cases go to the office each year and only around 24,000 of those are actually prosecuted.
“These sorts of decisions are happening but they’re happening behind closed doors and the process is opaque,” she said. “So I’d rather have the county attorney tell you upfront what the priorities of this office are rather than having those opaque decisions made and put it in front of the democratic process.”
Gunnigle lost to Allister Adel by less than 2 percentage points in 2020 in the race for the job.
Adel resigned last week after a tumultuous last few months in the role.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.