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.
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.
"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."