From the KLRN Bexar County Judge Forum hosted by Randy Beamer:
What will you do to improve health outcomes, including mental health and women’s reproductive health, in their county?
Edgar Coyle (11:58): “I don’t think that the priority should be prosecution or anything like that, and as a Bexar County Judge, I wouldn’t seek anything like that but we definitely need to put the money where it’s going to be well-spent.”
Trish DeBerry (12:56): “I can’t do anything about the fact [of] Roe v. Wade and what the Supreme Court did. But what I can tell you today is there have to be exceptions for rape, incest, and health of the mother and I will advocate for that.”
Peter Sakai (14:39): “I want a back to basics budget, what I call Bexar necessities…which will focus in and be child-centered and family focused. And that is a…resolution…what we need to do is treat these issues as public health and embrace the public health entity.”
From the Bexar District Attorney Debate hosted by Texas Public Radio The Source:
Question from David Martin Davies (12:00): After the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade and allowed states like Texas to make abortion hundred percent illegal, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the wife and the mother, how are you going to prosecute abortion cases? Will you be charging women or doctors with murder?
Joe Gonzales: Well, I was very vocal, and very public of, my disappointment of the DOB’s position. I had a press conference the day after. David, I believe you would there when I had that conference. I don’t believe the justice in prosecuting someone who makes a very personal and very private decision about their own body. I’ve already become the target of the Republican leaders in Austin. They were already talking about removal statutes. Look, I understand my obligation. And we will review cases when and if they are filed by law enforcement. But again, I don’t see, at a time when we should be focusing on violent crime, we should be focusing our resources on cases involving murder and sexual assault, it does seem just to me to spend any time considering whether or not we’ll be prosecuting a woman for making a very personal decision to seek abortion care. So, that’s the position that I am taking. And I do not see the justice in prosecuting someone for making that sort of decision.
Marc LaHood: Look, I don’t believe in playing politics. I meant we believe in the rule of law or we don’t. The elected DA is here to enforce the laws, and we have a separation of powers under our Texas constitution, which designates three separate branches: executive, judicial and legislative. We elect people to create the laws. And we elect people or change them, we hire, fire them to change the law. It is anarchy and chaos when we expect our law enforcement to pick and choose what they feel. We have a job to do, and that is based on the charge, evidence and history. There is always prosecutorial discretion, but it’s based on the charge, evidence and history. Once we come and say, I’m going to reject or accept solely on the based of some outside agenda, we are outright ignoring the rule of law. Would we want our police officers to not arrest because they disagree with the law? No, we are here to enforce it. And if we want it changed, then elect someone to change it.
Question from a caller (27:00): I would like to what, exactly, both candidates would charge a woman and her doctor with if she had an abortion in Bexar County.
Marc LaHood: So, first and foremost, the trigger law focuses on the providers, and it does allow a range whether or not there was an attempt or a successful abortion. Again, like anything else in life, I'm not here for politics, right? So, it comes back to the law on the books, and if a law is changed, that's issue number one. I don't believe in enforcing a law that's not on the books. Issue two is, it goes back to the charge, the evidence, and the history. Because you can throw out a blanket question, and I can give a soundbite, a political soundbite, but that wouldn't be an honest answer. There’s no two allegations or charges that are the same. Now, the second issue is the DA's office is not typically an initiating agency, and so, as a practical matter, that becomes an interesting issue to see how that's played out throughout the state. But rule #1 comes back to what I've said from day one, the charge, the evidence, and the history and then the prosecutors will use a discretion on how to proceed from there. Thank you.
Joe Gonzales: Well, unfortunately, that's not a correct statement of the trigger law. It does expose women to prosecution for committing the act of abortion, and it is also a first-degree offense, so that means that a woman who makes a decision to administer it, an abortion, herself could potentially be prosecuted under the trigger law and end up going to prison. Consider how absurd that is. Here, in the day's office, if somebody gets raped, it was our job to prosecute the offender. So, we tell the rape victim, Okay, we've already sent the offender, now it's our turn to prosecute you for committing an abortion because you were a victim of incest or sexual assault. That how absurd it is, and it's wrong. it's wrong that women, a woman, should be concerned about whether or not to ever face prison time for making that personal decision. I just as I've said before. I do not see the justice in doing that. And I don't agree with this law. And I hope that someday will see Roe V. Wade come back.