Texas DA says murder charge in abortion case will be dropped

By TERRY WALLACE Associated Press

A Texas prosecutor said Sunday he would ask a judge to dismiss a murder charge against a woman for a voluntary abortion.

Lizelle Herrera was arrested Thursday in Rio Grande City, a community of about 14,000 people along the Mexican border, after a Starr County grand jury charged her on March 30 with murder for allegedly causing ” the death of an individual… by voluntary abortion”. ”

District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez said Sunday his office would move to dismiss the charge Monday.

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

(229th District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez)

Ramirez went on to say, “I hope with the dismissal of this case, it is clear that Ms. Herrera has not committed a criminal act under the laws of the State of Texas.”

Authorities did not release details of what Herrera allegedly did, and Ramirez did not immediately respond to an email Sunday requesting further information about the case. From her statement on Sunday and a previous statement released by an official with the Starr County Sheriff’s Office, it was unclear whether Herrera was charged with having an abortion or helping someone another to have an abortion.

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

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

A leading Texas anti-abortion group said it understands the ruling, saying state law only provides civil remedies, not criminal remedies.

“The Texas Heartbeat Act and other state pro-life policies clearly prohibit criminal prosecutions for pregnant women. Texas Right to Life opposes prosecutors stepping outside the bounds of careful and carefully crafted Texas policies. said Texas Right to Life spokesperson Kimberlyn Schwartz.

Herrera was released from Starr County Jail on Saturday after posting $500,000 bond.

The indictment alleged that Herrera, on January 7, “then and there intentionally and knowingly caused the death of an individual … by voluntary abortion.”

In confirming the indictment on Saturday, Sheriff Major Carlos Delgado said no further information would be released until Monday as the matter was still under investigation.

Texas law would exempt Herrera from a homicide charge for aborting her own pregnancy, said University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck.

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

A 2021 state law that bans abortions in Texas for women as young as six weeks pregnant has dramatically reduced 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.

The woman who has an abortion is exempt from the law.

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

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

“You can only receive the drug under medical supervision,” according to Vladeck. “I realize that sounds weird because you’re taking the pill yourself, but it’s under at least nominal oversight from a provider.”

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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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