Lizelle Herrera was arrested after authorities said she "intentionally" caused "the death of an individual by self-induced abortion" in January.
A murder charge against a 26-year-old Texas woman accused of committing "self-induced illegal abortion" has been dropped. Lizelle Herrera was arrested and taken into custody by the Starr County Sheriff's Department on Thursday after authorities said she "intentionally and knowingly" caused "the death of an individual by self-induced abortion" in January. However, according to Sky News, it was never made clear what exactly Herrera allegedly did—whether she was accused of giving herself an abortion or assisting in someone else's self-induced abortion. She remained jailed in Rio Grande City until Saturday when she was released on a $500,000 bond.
Little else seems as important as the arrest of Lizelle Herrera, a 26-year-old in jail on a half-a-million-dollar bond arrested on an indictment for murder, following a self-induced abortion. https://t.co/DqnHDanZS2— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) April 9, 2022
Sheriff’s Maj. Carlos Delgado said in a statement that "Herrera was arrested and served with an indictment on the charge of Murder after Herrera did then and there intentionally and knowingly cause the death of an individual by self-induced abortion." However, he did not say under what law the woman has been charged. Speaking to The Associated Press, University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck pointed out that Texas law exempts Herrera from a criminal homicide charge for aborting her own pregnancy. "(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,'" Vladeck said.
I’m still stumped as to what the Starr County, Texas authorities thought they were charging Lizelle Herrera with. Senate Bill 8 provides CIVIL liability not criminal. Did someone get a little too ambitious and charge her without actually reading the law?— Tristan Snell (@TristanSnell) April 10, 2022
Sure sounds like Lizelle Herrera should consider suing the bejesus out of:— Tristan Snell (@TristanSnell) April 10, 2022
— the hospital and its staff, for HIPAA violations and possibly for malicious prosecution
— the sheriff’s office and its staff, for false imprisonment and 42 USC 1983 federal civil rights claims
"What's a little mysterious in this case is, what crime has this woman been charged with?" said Lynn Paltrow, the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women. "There is no statute in Texas that, even on its face, authorizes the arrest of a woman for a self-managed abortion." The abortion-rights group Frontera Fund was among those calling for Herrera's release. "We don't yet know all the details surrounding this tragic event," said Rockie Gonzales, 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."
The arrest of Lizelle Herrera in Texas drew national scrutiny and led abortion rights activists to demonstrate on her behalf. A law expert says civil rights lawsuits could be filed against the prosecutor’s office https://t.co/tb54qZnw7H pic.twitter.com/LDhBAF0mlW— Reuters (@Reuters) April 12, 2022
In a statement, Nancy Cárdenas Peña—Texas State Director for Policy and Advocacy for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice—said that abortion should be available on the woman's own terms where she feels most comfortable. "Allowing criminal law to be used against people who have ended their own pregnancies serves no reasonable state purpose, but may cause great harm to young people, people with lower incomes, and communities of color, who are most likely to encounter or be reported to law enforcement," she said.
The district attorney’s office in a Texas border county said Sunday that it would dismiss the case against Lizelle Herrera, a 26-year-old who was arrested on murder charges after what authorities claimed was a “self-induced abortion."https://t.co/j2yl4U3bNH— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) April 10, 2022
District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez on Sunday announced via a statement posted on Facebook that the charge against Herrera has been dropped. "Yesterday afternoon, I reached out to counsel for Ms. Lizelle Herrera to advise him that my office will be filing a motion dismissing the indictment against Ms. Herrera Monday, April 11, 2022. In reviewing applicable Texas law, it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her," the statement reads. "In reviewing this case, it is clear that the Starr County Sheriff’s Department did their duty in investigating the incident brought to their attention by the reporting hospital. To ignore the incident would have been a dereliction of their duty."
Breaking: The Starr County DA is dismissing charges against Lizelle Herrera.— Caroline Kitchener (@CAKitchener) April 10, 2022
“In reviewing applicable Texas law, it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her.” pic.twitter.com/gMQuB7pIHO
"Prosecutorial discretion rests with the District Attorney’s office, and in the State of Texas, a prosecutor's oath is to do justice. Following that oath, the only correct outcome to this matter is to immediately dismiss the indictment against Ms. Herrera. Although with this dismissal Ms. Herrera will not face prosecution for this incident, it is clear to me that the events leading up to this indictment have taken a toll on Ms. Herrera and her family. To ignore this fact would be shortsighted. The issues surrounding this matter are clearly contentious, however, based on Texas law and the facts presented, it is not a criminal matter," Allen Ramirez added. "Going forward, my office will continue to communicate with counsel for Ms. Herrera in order to bring this matter to a close. It is my hope that with the dismissal of this case it is made clear that Ms. Herrera did not commit a criminal act under the laws of the State of Texas."
Cover Image Source: Starr County Sheriff's Office