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A woman in Texas has been arrested and is now facing murder charges for a “self-induced” abortion.
Lizelle Herrera, 26, was apprehended by the Starr County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, and is now being held for murder, with a $500,000 bond, the Texas Public Radio reported.
The means by which Herrera aborted the child was not reported and is not specified in the charges, which only state that she “intentionally and knowingly caused the death of an individual by self-induced abortion,” according to a statement given by the Sheriff’s Office to local CBS 4/NBC 23 affiliate Valley Central.
Herrera has her defenders, however. They argue that Herrera is being unjustly charged for a miscarriage, and naturally abortion advocates have flocked to her cause.
“This arrest is inhumane. We are demanding the immediate release of Lizelle Herrera. What is alleged is that she was in the hospital and had a miscarriage and divulged some information to hospital staff, who then reported her to the police,” stated Rockie Gonzalez, the founder of the abortion activist Frontera Fund.
This may be the first time someone is facing charges under the new Texas “Heartbeat Act,” which bans abortions after six weeks of gestation with an exception for medical emergencies. The Texas law is unusual in that it relies on private individuals and entities to actually bring legal action in the form of civil lawsuits.
Due to Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, it can be difficult for states to directly ban and enforce abortion restrictions. However, mechanisms of “private enforcement” that rely on third parties to act as the reporting agent were not explicitly banned in the precedents set by Roe and similar cases.
That may change, depending on how the Supreme Court deals with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which has stimulated widespread rumors that the Supreme Court may be on the cusp of overturning Roe v. Wade. So far, the court has not reacted with the usual swiftness of overturning the Texas heartbeat law, and so it remains in effect, and there’s no guarantee the Supreme Court will overturn it at all.
One provision of the law that in somewhat legally vague area is women who perform abortions on themselves. It remains unclear whether the law covers such a scenario in its legally round-about method of enforcement, and it isn’t even entirely certain that the Heartbeat Act was even the legal rationale behind Herrera’s arrest.
The law has nonetheless had a dramatic impact on abortion rates since its passing. Abortions in Texas are down 60 percent in the first month alone since the law’s passage, according to the Washington Examiner, which extrapolated from Texas’ Health and Human Services data. However, the decline may be hiding the fact that women are simply going out of state to obtain abortions, and some have implied the decline is only 10 percent, according to the New York Times.
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