The ramifications of the Supreme Court leak on the Roe v. Wade decision continues to unsettle all of us.
In response, the California legislature is positioning the state to be a leader in the movement to preserve the right to an abortion in the United States.
Though, we must be mindful that this right is not one all California leaders want to uphold.
In our own state, abortion rights and reproductive justice are on the ballot, and nowhere is this more evident than in a district attorney race in Kings County.
In a 2021 case in Kings County, District Attorney Keith Fagundes charged a woman with murder after she suffered a stillbirth. The DA based the charges on the woman’s drug use during pregnancy.
The ACLU of Northern California argued that Fagundes was “leading an unlawful effort to surveil and prosecute people who lose their pregnancies.”
The ACLU further explained that, “The DA’s efforts in the Perez and Becker cases represent some of the most extreme and invasive effort to assert government control over pregnant people’s bodies, and if successful, could potentially give prosecutors the power to criminalize a wide range of behavior—like running, eating certain foods, or working a stressful or physically demanding job.”
Fagundes also set bail at an excessive $2 million.
In January 2022, Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a legal alert instructing law enforcement and district attorneys in the state to not charge women with murder for miscarriages or stillbirths. The alert is a response to the 2021 charges.
On Monday, Fagundes dropped the remaining charges without prejudice. It was celebrated by abortion rights advocates, including Bonta.
“Suffering a miscarriage or a stillbirth can be deeply personal and traumatic. We owe it to all Californians to ensure the pain of loss is not compounded by violation of privacy and unjust prosecution,” said Bonta in a statement on Monday. “California law is clear: We do not criminalize people for the loss of a pregnancy. My office will continue to stand up for the rights of pregnant people in California and beyond.”
But that decision was short-lived. Just one day later, Fagundes told CalMatters that he plans to re-file a murder charge.
It makes this upcoming local election even more urgent as Fagundes is up for re-election, running against Deputy DA Sarah Hacker.
Primary ballots are being mailed this week.
This communication is paid for by the California Faculty Association.