As news spread over the arrest of 26-year-old Lizelle Herrera in Starr County, there was immediate outrage and action over somebody being detained for an alleged self-induced abortion. Now that the District Attorney of Starr County filed a motion to drop those charges, one major question remains: how did this happen?
Last week, The Monitor News reported that Herrera had been arrested by the Starr County sheriff’s office for murder after an abortion that occurred in January. The sheriff’s office was alerted about Herrera from an individual at a hospital where she was receiving care. Herrera was being held on $500,000 bail.
After widespread media attention and a protest on Saturday, the District Attorney of Starr County, Gocha Allen Ramirez, announced that the charges against Herrera were dropped. “In reviewing applicable Texas law, it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her,” wrote Ramirez.
But why was Herrera arrested in the first place? According to Telemundo, the district attorney’s office presented Herrera’s case to a grand jury, which subsequently indicted her. The case has not yet been shared with the public.
Last year, Texas passed the draconian Senate Bill 8, a six-week abortion ban that also allows anyone to sue anybody who aids or abets an abortion. However, the citizen vigilante civil litigation is supposed to exempt anybody who receives an abortion.
Rockie Gonzalez, the founder of the abortion fund La Frontera, spoke to Democracy Now about Herrera’s case, and why what happened to her is so alarming. Gonzalez said that Herrera shared something with a medical professional, who then alerted the authorities. For Gonzalez, this sets up a scenario, “where our people are going to be afraid to share potentially life-saving information with a medical professional for fear of arrest.”
Many have also noted that cases like Herrera’s put anybody who is pregnant in danger. It is virtually impossible to determine whether a terminated pregnancy is the result of a miscarriage or a self-induced abortion. Women of color are also more likely to be criminalized for having a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Roe v. Wade is almost certainly going to either be overturned or dramatically scaled back this summer. With states like Oklahoma passing near-total abortion bans, the options for women in Texas and surrounding areas are dwindling. There are even some Republicans campaigning for death penalties for abortions.
What happened to Lizelle Herrera is a likely preview of what’s to come for even more Texans.
The future that many abortion activists have been warning about is not in the distance, it’s here.