Murder charge over self-induced abortion dismissed in Texas

Apr 11, 2022, 5:15 PM | Updated: 6:44 pm

DALLAS (AP) — A Texas judge formally dismissing a murder charge Monday against a 26-year-old woman over a self-induced abortion did not quiet outrage or questions surrounding the case, including why prosecutors ever brought it to a grand jury.

A woman who ends her own pregnancy cannot be charged with a crime under Texas law. Officials in rural Starr County, along the U.S.-Mexico border, have not released details about why they decided to pursue a case against Lizelle Herrera after being contacted by a hospital.

“There should have been no reason for a report to have been made. There should have been no reason for a criminal investigation to take place,” said Farah Diaz-Tello, senior counsel and legal director at If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice.

News of Herrera’s arrest on Thursday raised alarms for abortion rights advocates, and sparked people to gather in protest outside the jail where she was being held on $500,00 bond. Her March 30 indictment alleges she “intentionally and knowingly” caused the death of “an individual … by a self-induced abortion” in early January.

Authorities have not described what exactly Herrera allegedly did, and it wasn’t clear if she was accused of giving herself an abortion or assisting in someone else’s self-induced abortion.

An attorney for Herrera, who was released from jail Saturday after posting bond, did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press.

Starr County District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez said in a Sunday statement that he would file the motion to dismiss the charge, saying, “it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her.”

But he did not explain why the case was presented to a grand jury, nor did he reply Monday to an email from AP seeking additional information. A woman who answered the phone at his office said Sunday’s statement was “the only thing he’s going to say on the subject” and and hung up before identifying herself.

“These were choices that did not have to be made because losing a pregnancy or ending a pregnancy or self-managing an abortion is not a crime in the state of Texas,” Diaz-Tello said.

Texas last year passed a law known as Senate Bill 8, or SB8, that bans abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy. The law leaves enforcement to private citizens who can sue doctors or anyone who helps a woman get an abortion.

Another new Texas law prohibits doctors and clinics from prescribing abortion-inducing medications after seven weeks and prohibits the delivery of the pills by mail.

Neither law authorizes any action against the woman who ends her pregnancy, Diaz-Tello said.

“The problem is though when you have this heightened situation of suspicion and fear and the chilling effect that this all creates, that is going to make it much more likely that health care providers are going to improperly err on the side of reporting — err on the side of violating their patient’s confidentiality and bringing in law enforcement,” Diaz-Tello said.

Diaz-Tello said actions taken by the hospital and law enforcement in this case could lead women to be fearful of seeking health care after an abortion.

Joanna Grossman, professor at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law in Dallas, said SB8 could be “indirectly playing a lot of roles here.” For one, there has been an increase since SB8 in women going online to get abortion pills, she said.

Also, she said, the law sends a message “that there’s just a war on abortion.”

“It certainly changed access but it’s also I think just changed the whole context in which people evaluate abortion care,” Grossman said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

North Carolina man pleads guilty in police officer’s death

MOIUNT HOLLY, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges stemming from the fatal shooting of a police officer in 2020, authorities said. During his hearing, Joshua Tyler Funk, 24, of Mount Holly, entered a guilty plea for murder, news outlets reported. In exchange for his plea, the other charges […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Federal appeals court greenlights federal deportation policy

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Federal guidance prioritizing the deportation of people in the country illegally who pose the greatest public safety risk can be implemented, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. At issue is a September directive from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that paused deportation unless individuals had committed acts of terrorism, espionage […]
16 hours ago
FILE - This April 10, 2022 image shows the Rio Grande flowing just north of Albuquerque, N.M. The f...
Associated Press

Western states could settle feud over beleaguered Rio Grande

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The fight between Texas and New Mexico over the management of one of the longest rivers in North America could be nearing an end as a date to resume the trial has been put off pending negotiations aimed at settling the years-long case before the U.S. Supreme Court. New Mexico Attorney […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Colorado funeral home owner pleads guilty in body sales case

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado funeral home operator accused of illegally selling body parts and giving clients fake ashes has pleaded guilty to mail fraud in federal court. The Daily Sentinel reports that Megan Hess faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison after entering the plea Tuesday in Grand Junction. Other […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Mirabilite spring mounds are shown at the Great Salt Lake, May 3, 2022, near Salt Lake City....
Associated Press

Great Salt Lake hits new historic low for 2nd time in a year

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Great Salt Lake has hit a new historic low for the second time in less than a year as the ongoing megadrought worsened by climate change continues to shrink the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi. Utah Department of Natural Resources said Monday in a news release the […]
16 hours ago
A body is transported from the scene of a mass shooting during the July 4th holiday weekend Monday ...
Associated Press

Deadly July 4 parade: Shots, then a frantic rush to escape

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) — David Shapiro and his wife brought their two young kids to enjoy the Independence Day parade in their hometown north of Chicago, snagging a spot in front of a boutique winery. The children’s parade in downtown Highland Park had already gone by, with about 50 school-age children riding bikes, scooters […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Murder charge over self-induced abortion dismissed in Texas