DA drops charges against Texas woman over ‘self-induced’ abortion: ‘not a criminal matter’

The Texas woman arrested Thursday and charged with murder after performing a “self-induced” abortion will have her indictment dismissed Monday following review by the district attorney who found she “cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her.”

DA Gocha Allen Ramirez who represents Starr, Jim Hogg and Duval counties in some of the southernmost parts of Texas had reviewed the ongoing investigation and made a determination based on “prosecutorial discretion.” Ramirez provided an update on the case Sunday with an official release.

“Yesterday afternoon,” the DA wrote, “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.” Herrera had already been released from the Starr County Sheriff’s office after posting bail set at $500,000.

“In reviewing applicable Texas law,” he continued, “it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her.”

The Starr County Sheriff’s Office had arrested 26-year-old Herrera on Thursday following a March 30 grand jury indictment for actions taken on Jan. 7. The details provided on her case were limited due to the active investigation, but it was reported that she “intentionally and knowingly caused the death of an individual by self-induced abortion.”

“In reviewing this case,” Ramirez stated, “it is clear that the Starr County Sheriff’s Department did their duty in investigating the incident brought to their attention by the reporting hospital. To ignore this incident would have been a dereliction of their duty.”

Despite that, the DA clarified, “Prosecutorial discretion rests with the District Attorney’s office, and in the State of Texas a prosecutor’s oath is to do justice. Following that oath, the only correct outcome to this matter is to immediately dismiss the indictment against Ms. Herrera.”

At focus is the Texas “Heartbeat Act” which, after Supreme Court challenges, has been permitted to remain in effect until a full case has been considered. Signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R), it bans abortions after six weeks, with exceptions including to save the life of the mother, and permits private citizens to sue abortion providers for performing terminations.

Rockie Gonzalez, founder of the abortion activist Frontera Fund, weighed in on Herrera’s case stating in part, “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.”

However, without further details from officials, those claims cannot be corroborated. Ramirez noted as much as he continued in his statement, “The issues surrounding this matter are clearly contentious, however based on Texas law and the facts presented, it is not a criminal matter.”

Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor, told the Associated Press, “(Homicide) doesn’t apply to the murder of an unborn child if the conduct charged is ‘conduct committed by the mother of the unborn child.”

Nancy Cárdenas Peña, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice’s Texas State Director for Policy and Advocacy spoke with CBS News and argued, “Allowing criminal law to be used against people who have ended their own pregnancies serves no reasonable state purpose, but may cause great harm to young people,” especially minorities and the poor by her assessment.

However, pro-life groups like Texas Right to Life had stated in February of the ban, “For over 150 days, our work has saved an estimated 100 babies per day. Our impact is only just beginning as more states seek to replicate our success and as we look to the Mississippi case that could overturn Roe this summer.” Abortions in Texas were reportedly down 60 percent in the first month of the ban alone.


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