Texas prosecutors say murder charges in abortion case will be dropped

A Texas district attorney says he will ask a judge to drop a murder charge against a woman over a self-induced abortion

RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas — A Texas district attorney said Sunday he will ask a judge to dismiss a murder charge against a woman for having a self-induced abortion.

Lizelle Herrera was arrested Thursday in Rio Grande City, a community of about 14,000 on the Mexico border, after a Starr County grand jury indicted her on March 30 with murder for allegedly causing “the death of a person… by.” Self-infliction” had caused abortion.”

District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez said Sunday his office would drop the charges Monday.

“In reviewing this case, it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegations made against her,” Ramirez said in a statement.

Ramirez continued, “I hope that the dismissal of this case will clarify that Ms. Herrera did not commit a crime under the laws of the State of Texas.”

Authorities have not released details of what Herrera allegedly did, and Ramirez did not immediately respond to an email on Sunday asking for more information about the case. His statement Sunday and an earlier statement by a Starr County Sheriff’s Office official did not say whether Herrera was charged with giving himself an abortion or assisting in another person’s self-induced abortion.

In a tweet on Sunday, Planned Parenthood called the decision “Such NEEDED news.”

“Although the charges against Lizelle have been dropped, we know the fight against the criminalization of pregnancy outcomes is just beginning,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood.

A leading Texas anti-abortion group said it understood the decision, saying state law allows only civil remedies, not criminal ones.

“The Texas Heartbeat Act and other state pro-life policies clearly prohibit criminal charges for pregnant women. Texas Right to Life opposes prosecutors who overstep the bounds of Texas’ prudent and carefully crafted policy,” said Kimberlyn Schwartz, spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life.

Herrera was released from the Starr County jail Saturday after posting $500,000 bail.

The indictment alleged that on Jan. 7, Herrera “here and there intentionally and knowingly caused the death of a person … by self-induced abortion.”

Confirming the charges on Saturday, Sheriff’s Maj. Carlos Delgado said no further information would be released until Monday as the case is still under investigation.

Texas law would free Herrera from a criminal charge of manslaughter for abortion, said University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck.

“(Murder) does not apply to the murder of an unborn child when the conduct charged is ‘conduct of the mother of the unborn child,'” Vladeck said.

A 2021 law banning abortions in Texas for women as young as six weeks pregnant has severely curtailed the number of abortions in the state. The law leaves enforcement to private individuals, who can sue doctors or anyone who assists a woman with an abortion.

The aborting woman is exempt from the law.

Another Texas law prohibits doctors and clinics from prescribing abortion-promoting drugs after the seventh week of pregnancy and prohibits delivery of the pills in the mail.

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

“You can only get the drugs under medical supervision,” Vladeck said. “I realize that sounds strange because you’re taking the pill yourself, but it’s being serviced by a vendor, at least in theory.”

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Associated Press writers Ken Miller in Oklahoma City and Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas contributed to this report.

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