Charges dropped against Texas woman accused of self-induced abortion

10 April 2022

RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas — Charges have been dropped against a 26-year-old Texas woman who was accused by authorities of causing “the death of an individual by self-induced abortion,” in a state that has the most restrictive abortion laws in the U.S.

The video above is from a previous report.

It’s unclear whether Lizelle Herrera is accused of having an abortion or whether she helped someone else get an abortion.

RELATED: Texas clinics’ lawsuit over abortion ban ‘effectively over’ after supreme court decision

Herrera was arrested Thursday and jailed Saturday on a $500,000 bond in the Starr County jail in Rio Grande City, on the U.S.-Mexico border, sheriff’s Maj. Carlos Delgado said in a statement.

Additionally reported by ABC13, Herrera is out on bail, according to the Frontera Fund.

“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,” Delgado said.

Delgado did not say under what law Herrera has been charged. He said no other information will be released until at least Monday because the case remains under investigation.

But on Sunday, the local district attorney announced the decision to drop the charges.

The following is part of a statement from District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez.

“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. 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.”

A 2021 state law that bans abortions in Texas for women who are as early as six weeks pregnant has sharply curtailed the number of abortions in the state. The law leaves enforcement to private citizens who can sue doctors or anyone who helps a woman get an abortion.

RELATED: Texas now bans medical abortions after 7 weeks of pregnancy

The woman receiving the abortion is exempted from the law.

However, some states still have laws that criminalize self-induced abortions “and there have been a handful of prosecutions here and there over the years,” University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck told The Associated Press.

“It is murder in Texas to take steps that terminate a fetus, but when a medical provider does it, it can’t be prosecuted” due to U.S. Supreme Court rulings upholding the constitutionality of abortion, Vladeck said.

Another Texas law prohibits doctors and clinics from prescribing abortion-inducing medications after the seventh week of pregnancy and prohibits delivery of the pills by mail.

Medication abortions are not considered self-induced under federal Food and Drug Administration regulations, Vladeck said.

“You can only receive the medication under medical supervision,” according to Vladeck. “I realize this sounds weird because you are taking the pill yourself, but it is under a providers’ at least theoretical care.”

RELATED: Oklahoma state House approves bill to make abortion illegal

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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