Murder Charge Dismissed Against Texas Woman in ‘Self-Induced Abortion’ Case

The murder charge against a woman in Texas in connection with a “self-induced abortion” will be dismissed, a Texas district attorney announced Sunday.

Gocha Allen Ramirez, the district attorney of Starr County, said in a statement that, after reviewing the case, he will file a motion on Monday to dismiss the indictment against the woman, Lizelle Herrera, 26.

“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, ”Mr. Ramirez said.

Ms. Herrera was arrested on Friday and detained in Starr County, near the Mexico border, according to a local sheriff’s official. An abortion rights organization, Frontera Fund, said she was released on $ 500,000 bail on Saturday.

According to the sheriff’s office statement, which was reported Saturday by The Associated Press, Ms. Herrera was indicted on the murder charge after she “intentionally and knowingly” caused the death of an individual by “self-induced abortion.”

Many details of the indictment remained unclear on Sunday, including whether Ms. Herrera was accused of having the abortion or aiding one, or how far along the pregnancy had been.

The indictment came months after the Texas Legislature passed several restrictions on abortion. But “in reviewing applicable Texas law, it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her, ”Mr. Ramirez said.

He also acknowledged 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. ”

Ms. Herrera’s lawyer, Calixtro Villarreal, did not respond to requests for comment.

It was not immediately known what statute Ms. Herrera was being indicted under. An abortion ban that took effect in Texas in September, known as SB 8, prohibits abortion after six weeks but leaves enforcement to civilians, offering them rewards of at least $ 10,000 for successful lawsuits against anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion.

The Texas Legislature then enacted another law, SB 4, which establishes a criminal violation – a state felony punishable by a $ 10,000 fine and up to two years in prison – for providing medical abortion pills after 49 days of pregnancy, or for providers who fail to comply with a series of new regulations and procedures. That law also exempts pregnant women from prosecution.

One section of the Texas penal code exempts expectant mothers from being charged with murder in connection with “the death of an unborn child.” Most states instead target abortion providers when an abortion is deemed illegal.

In most of the country, abortion is prohibited after fetal viability, generally at 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Several states, however, are moving to ban abortions at much earlier stages in anticipation that the US Supreme Court will soon overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion and that prohibited states from banning the procedure before a fetus is viable.

Kate Zernike contributed reporting. Jack Begg contributed research.

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