May 24, 2022

VINDICATED: Murder charges dropped against Texas woman who suffered a miscarriage

VINDICATED: Murder charges dropped against Texas woman who suffered a miscarriage

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Starr County DA, Gocha Allen Ramirez, announced plans to file a motion dismissing the case against Lizelle Herrera, the Texas woman arrested for murder on April 7th for having “intentionally and knowingly caused the death of an individual J.A.H. by a self-induced abortion.”

Francisco Jimenez, the reporter for The Monitor who broke the story, tweeted a copy of the press release:

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With the first abortion-related arrest in  Texas following the state’s passing of SB8, pro-choice and women’s advocates have been vocal in their support for Herrera. Rockie Gonzalez, founder of La Frontera Fund – an organization that provides financial assistance for women seeking safe access to abortion in the Rio Grande Valley – has been leading the charge, organizing a protest Saturday morning outside of the Sheriff’s department to demand Herrera’s release. In an interview with Texas Public Radio’s Pablo De La Rosa, on Friday, Gonzalez pledged legal support for Herrera when asked.

“Yes, we have a legal team. And we have a lot of support, like I said, across the state, in our region, and nationally–the national network that we are a part of. We work in coalition statewide with other abortion funds and abortion advocacy groups,” Gonzalez said. “And so we have the means and the ability to pull the resources that we need because we have a national community behind us to support us. So we will get her legal support paid for. If we can contact the family, we will not stop until she’s released and we have justice for Lizelle.”

Herrera was released later that morning when a local bondsman posted a $500,000 surety bond to cover her half-a-million-dollar bail.

La Frontera Fund announced Saturday afternoon that a legal defense fund has been set up for Ms. Herrera.

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While details leading up to her arrest remain unclear, it’s been reported that Herrera went to the hospital for a miscarriage and that the details she revealed to staff prompted them to call the police. According to La Frontera Fund founder Rockie Gonzalez, Herrera’s arrest is “inhumane.” Gonzalez went on to say:

“She miscarried at a hospital and allegedly confided to hospital staff that she had attempted to maker her own abortion, and she was reported to authorities by hospital administration and staff.”

The Monitor‘s Valerie Gonzales tweeted a copy of the indictment, which raises several questions. The grand jury was convened on January 7th. It would be March 30th before the filing of the indictment, and another week before Herrera’s arrest with no explanation or context as to what law was violated. SB8 criminalizes those “assisting” in an abortion after the six-week cut-off, but not the patient themselves.

I attempted to call the office of Starr County District Attorney Allen Ramirez for clarification, but the phone rang until going to voicemail. I was unable to leave a message. I reached out to the Sheriff’s Department as well, and was greeted with this:

“Due to technical difficulties, your call cannot be completed at this time. Please try your call again later.”

Dial tone.

The Rio Grande Valley is home to just one of seven remaining abortion clinics in the state of Texas. The nearest after that is 240 miles away in San Antonio,  one of the poorest counties in the country — and the least insured. The fight to keep abortion legal and safe is an uphill one.

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Organizations like La Frontera Fund are doing all they can to help women like Herrera. On April 14th, they have a virtual event — “To the Front” — scheduled to raise money for the cause. One of the speakers scheduled is none other than Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).

Lizelle Herrera may be free pending dismissal of the murder charges, but the damage is done. This case will further isolate women already suffering in silence. We are watching as bodily autonomy is being snatched away. Those who aren’t ready to start a family are not the only ones who will be affected. For those who, for whatever reason, are unable to carry a pregnancy to term and have a miscarriage, a trip to the hospital for what should be routine medical care, could result in a prison sentence. Obviously, this would deter women from getting the urgent help they need to prevent further injury or even death. The far-reaching implications will be felt across Texas — and the nation — as Red states nationwide often mimic and act in lock-step with one another.

Herrera and her supporters and advocates may have won this battle, but TX Governor Gregg Abbott’s “war on women” is far from over.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

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Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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