Woman faces murder charge for ‘voluntary abortion’, Texas official says
Women of color most affected if abortion is banned
Women of color in states where abortion laws are already restrictive often have limited access to health care. If abortions are banned, it is probably the same women who will have the most difficulty terminating a pregnancy or raising the children they have. (February 1st)
Reproductive rights advocates are expressing outrage after a woman in Texas was arrested and charged with murder for what law enforcement called “the death of an individual by voluntary abortion.”
The Starr County Sheriff’s Office in southern Texas arrested 26-year-old Lizelle Herrera on Thursday. It’s unclear if Herrera is accused of having a voluntary abortion or if she helped someone else get an abortion.
“Herrera was arrested and charged with murder after Herrera intentionally and knowingly caused the death of an individual by voluntary abortion,” Sheriff Maj. Carlos Delgado said in a statement. at the Associated Press.
Delgado did not specify under which law Herrera was charged. Herrera remains in Starr County Jail on $500,000 bond, according to the jail listing.
The Sheriff’s Department and the Starr County District Attorney’s Office did not respond to USA TODAY’s multiple requests for comment.
A handful of demonstrators gathered outside the jail on Saturday morning to demand Herrera’s release.
Rockie Gonzalez, founder of Frontera Fund, the nonprofit abortion access fund that organized the protest, called the arrest “inhumane,” adding in a statement Saturday that “criminalizing women’s choices pregnancy or pregnancy outcomes, which the State of Texas has done, takes away people’s autonomy over their own bodies, and leaves them with no safe options when they choose not to become parents.”
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“We stand with you Lizelle, if you’re reading this, and we won’t stand down until you’re free,” Gonzalez said.
Kamyon Conner, executive director of the Texas Equal Access Fund, said in a statement to USA TODAY that she stands in solidarity with Herrera and is outraged by her arrest.
“No one should be punished for pregnancy outcomes, especially in a state that has made abortion access impossible,” she said. “Make no mistake that these harsh laws and restrictions are meant to ensure that black and brown bodies continue to be controlled by misogynistic, racist and classist systems of oppression.”
The case comes several months after the Texas Senate’s Bill 8 was signed into law in September 2021, banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy in a state that has the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation. The law, however, does not target pregnant people themselves for lawsuits and is instead enforceable by private parties who can sue abortion providers who “aid and abet” women seeking abortions.
Five states – Arizona, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Delaware and Nevada – have laws that criminalize self-directed abortions, according to the February 2021 statement of If/When/How, a national network of lawyers advocating for reproductive rights. Texas has no such law.
However, “even in states without such laws, politically motivated police and prosecutors have attempted to abuse other criminal laws to target people who self-manage abortion,” the statement said. .
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González de La Frontera told Texas Public Radio that “this is definitely” the first such case she has seen in the Rio Grande Valley.
But a relationship of If/When/How said the organization found 18 arrests of people nationwide who terminated their own pregnancies or those who supported them.
“One thing is constant in all these cases: when a prosecutor wants to punish someone, he will find a way to do it,” the report said, adding that in many cases the charges were based on outdated laws or laws intended to protect pregnant women in the wake of high-profile violent attacks on pregnant women.
Although the courts have generally sided with those accused of voluntary abortions, there are about 40 types of laws that prosecutors “can apply against people who terminate their own pregnancies and those who help them,” according to the If/When/How ratio. .
In 2015, a murder charge dropped against 23-year-old Georgian woman accused of taking abortion pills to terminate a pregnancy. Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards dismissed the charge on the grounds that “criminal prosecution of a pregnant woman for her own actions against her unborn child does not appear warranted,” The Washington Post reported.
That same year, an Indiana woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of feticide and child neglect for taking abortion drugs. A the state appeals court later overturned both convictionsconcluding that Indiana’s feticide law was not intended to be used to prosecute women for their own abortions.
Years earlier, a Chinese-American woman in Indiana was charged with murder and attempted feticide in 2011 after a failed suicide attempt resulted in a miscarriage. Those charges were dropped in 2013.
These types of arrests disproportionately target low-income women and women of color, according to another If/When/How relationship.
“These women are most likely to have factors – such as a lack of money, childcare, transportation or legal immigration status, or distrust of the medical system – that push or push them towards voluntary abortion,” the report said. mentioned.
Contribute: The Associated Press