A 26-Year-Old Woman Was Arrested After A “Self-Induced Abortion” In Texas. The Charge Will Be Dropped, The Prosecutor Says.

Abortion rights advocates rallied around Lizelle Herrera, who spent several days in jail on a $500,000 bond.

People wearing masks hold up various signs, including "My Body My Choice My Vote My Voice" and "Students of Today Voters of Tomorrow"
Montinique Monroe / Getty Images

Demonstrators rally against anti-abortion and voter suppression laws at the Texas State Capitol on Oct. 2, 2021, in Austin.

A Texas prosecutor said Sunday he'd seek to drop the murder indictment against a 26-year-old woman who had been arrested for being involved in a "self-induced abortion."

Lizelle Herrera was arrested Thursday on on a murder indictment after allegedly "intentionally and knowingly [causing] the death of an individual by self-induced abortion," the Starr County Sheriff's Office told BuzzFeed News. She was placed under $500,000 bond in jail in Rio Grande City.

Details about what happened, including whether Herrera herself had been pregnant, were not immediately available. The Starr County Sheriff's Office also did not initially state under which law Herrera had been arrested. Texas has banned abortion after six weeks, but penalties focus on abortion providers or others who assist patients in ending their pregnancies — not pregnant people themselves.

After Herrera's arrest was reported by the Monitor, a local news outlet, advocates for abortion rights began to raise legal funds on her behalf, and she was released from jail Saturday. The arrest also prompted an outcry, drawing a protest at the Starr County jail as well as support on social media to #FreeLizelle.

"We want people to know that this type of legislation impacts low-income people of color communities the most when state legislators put restrictions on our reproductive rights," Rockie Gonzalez, founder of Frontera Fund, told Texas Public Radio.

According to the indictment, which was obtained by the Monitor, Herrera was accused of "intentionally and knowingly causing the death of an individual J.A.H., by a self-induced abortion" sometime around Jan. 7.

El niño, según las autoridades, nació vivo y luego falleció. Aquí más información. https://t.co/Hso048ozAk

Twitter: @Telemundo40

On Sunday, District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez said he would be filing a motion to dismiss the indictment against Herrera because she did not violate any laws.

"In reviewing applicable Texas law, it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her," Ramirez said in a statement.

According to the district attorney, a local hospital first contacted the sheriff's office regarding Herrera. He added that he believed the sheriff's office had done its duty by investigating the matter.

Despite the grand jury indictment, the facts of the case did not allow him to prosecute, Ramirez said.

"Although with this dismissal Ms. Herrera will not face prosecution for this incident, it is clear to me that the events leading up to this indictment have taken a toll on Ms. Herrera and her family," he said.

Rio Grande Valley and national reproductive rights advocates said she should never have been arrested in the first place.

While the charges against Lizelle have been dismissed, we know the fight against the criminalization of pregnancy outcomes has only just begun. #Justice4Lizelle https://t.co/jjjpxCKVvU

Twitter: @alexismcgill

Lizelle should not have been arrested. At all. No hospital staff should call police on patients seeking their care. No one should be charged with a crime for the outcome of their pregnancies. Everyone should be able to have an abortion, any time, any reason. Periodt.

Twitter: @RBraceySherman

South Texans for Reproductive Justice demands the release of Lizelle Hernandez. Since our days of clinic escorting, STRJ has always been at the forefront of the fight for abortion access and reproductive justice. We won't back down. #FreeLizelle

Twitter: @sotx4rj

Our work continues to ensure that people, especially from the Rio Grande Valley, are not criminalized for making the best decisions for themselves and their families. RGV is one of the areas hit the hardest by abortion restrictions.

Twitter: @PoderosasTX

"This is a bittersweet victory. It should not have taken national attention for these charges to be dismissed," South Texans 4 RJ said in a tweet. "It should not have taken until April 9 for her to be released. Pregnant people deserve a full range of care in all communities."

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