Authorities say a 26-year-old woman has been charged with murder in Texas after causing “the death of an individual by voluntary abortion.”
RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas — A 26-year-old woman has been charged with murder in Texas after authorities said she caused “the death of an individual by voluntary abortion,” in a state that has the most restrictive abortion in the United States
It’s unclear if Lizelle Herrera is accused of having an abortion or if she helped someone else get an abortion.
Herrera was arrested Thursday and remained in custody Saturday on $500,000 bond in the Starr County Jail in Rio Grande City on the U.S.-Mexico border, Sheriff Maj. Carlos Delgado said in a statement.
“Herrera was arrested and charged with murder after Herrera intentionally and knowingly caused the death of an individual by voluntary abortion,” Delgado said.
Delgado did not specify under which law Herrera was charged. He said no further information will be released until at least Monday as the matter remains under investigation.
Texas law exempts her from a homicide charge for aborting her own pregnancy, University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck told The Associated Press.
“(Homicide) does not apply to the murder of an unborn child if the conduct charged is ‘conduct committed by the mother of the unborn child,'” Vladeck said.
A 2021 state law that bans abortions in Texas for women as young as six weeks pregnant has dramatically reduced the number of abortions in the state. The law leaves enforcement to private citizens who can sue doctors or anyone who helps a woman get an abortion.
The woman who has an abortion is exempt from the law.
However, some states still have laws that criminalize voluntary abortions “and there have been a handful of lawsuits here and there over the years,” Vladeck said.
“It is murder in Texas to take action that terminates a fetus, but when a medical provider does so, they cannot be prosecuted” due to U.S. Supreme Court rulings upholding the constitutionality of abortion, Vladeck said.
Another Texas law prohibits doctors and clinics from prescribing abortion-inducing drugs after the seventh week of pregnancy and prohibits mail delivery of pills.
Medical abortions are not considered self-induced under federal Food and Drug Administration regulations, Vladeck said.
“You can only receive the drug under medical supervision,” according to Vladeck. “I realize that sounds weird because you’re taking the pill yourself, but it’s under at least nominal oversight from a provider.”
On Saturday in Rio Grande City, the abortion rights group Frontera Fund called for Herrera’s release.
“We don’t yet know all the details surrounding this tragic event,” said Rockie Gonzales, the organization’s founder and chairman of the board.
“What we do know is that criminalizing pregnant women’s choices or pregnancy outcomes, as the state of Texas has done, takes away people’s autonomy over their own bodies and leaves them no safe option when they choose not to become parents.” said Rockie.
Miller reported from Oklahoma City and Hollingsworth reported from Mission, Kansas. Associated Press reporter Juan Lozano in Houston contributed to this report.