Texas prosecutor drops murder charge against woman arrested for self-induced abortion

On Monday, a Texas district attorney’s office said that it had dropped the indictment against Lizelle Herrera, the woman who made national news when she was arrested on Thursday and charged with murder.

Her arrest came as authorities claimed she “caused the death of an individual by self-induced abortion.”

District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez, who represents counties Starr, Jim Hogg, and Duval, wrote in a statement on Sunday: “In reviewing applicable Texas law, it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her.”

Ramirez added that he informed Herrera’s lawyer on Saturday of his plan to file the dismissal motion on Monday. That day, the Starr County District Attorney’s Office confirmed that the case had been dropped.

Herrera, 26-years-old, had been arrested and was being held in custody on a $500,000 bond in the Starr County jail in Rio Grande City. The abortion rights group Frontera Fund called for Herrera’s release in the city where she was being held on Saturday.

“We don’t know yet all the details surrounding this tragic event,” commented Rockie Gonzales, the founder and board chair of the organization. “What we do know is that criminalizing pregnant people’s choices or pregnancy outcomes, which the state of Texas has done, takes away people’s autonomy over their own bodies, and leaves them with no safe options when they choose not to become a parent.” 

According to Texas law, as noted by University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck, Herrera was exempted from a criminal homicide charge for aborting her own baby: “[Homicide] doesn’t apply to the murder of an unborn child if the conduct charged is ‘conduct committed by the mother of the unborn child,” he said.

Still, some states have laws that criminalize self-induced abortions “and there have been a handful of prosecutions here and there over the years,” he added. “It is murder in Texas to take steps that terminate a fetus, but when a medical provider does it, it can’t be prosecuted.”




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