Apr 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Texas woman faces murder charge for alleged "self-induced abortion"

Demonstrators rally against anti-abortion and voter suppression laws at the Texas State Capitol on October 2, 2021 in Austin, Texas.
Demonstrators rally against anti-abortion and voter suppression laws at the Texas State Capitol on Oct. 2, 2021, in Austin, Texas. The Women's March and other groups organized marches across the country to protest the new abortion law in Texas. Photo: Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

Authorities in Texas say they've charged a 26-year-old woman with murder for allegedly causing "the death of an individual by self-induced abortion," AP reports.

Driving the news: Lizelle Herrera was arrested Thursday and held at the Starr County jail in Rio Grande City, near Mexico, until Saturday, said La Frontera Fund, an abortion assistance group in the Rio Grande Valley that campaigned for her release.

Details: "Herrera was arrested and served with an indictment on the charge of Murder after Herrera did then and there intentionally and knowingly cause the death of an individual by self-induced abortion," sheriff’s Maj. Carlos Delgado said in a statement, according to AP.

  • Authorities didn't clarify whether they're accusing Herrera of having an abortion or helping someone else to have the procedure.
  • La Frontera Fund founder Rickie Gonzalez told Reuters that Herrera had "miscarried at a hospital and allegedly confided to hospital staff that she had attempted to induce her own abortion and she was reported to the authorities by hospital administration or staff."

By the numbers: Bond was set at $500,000, according to multiple reports.

The big picture: Texas has the most restrictive abortion ban in the U.S. The law, Senate Bill 8 (S.B. 8), took effect last September.

Between the lines: Texas law exempts Herrera "from a criminal homicide charge for aborting her own pregnancy," University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck told AP.

  • Vladeck said in a Twitter post that supporters of S.B. 8 "have long insisted that it didn't punish" those who have abortions, just people who "facilitated" them. But "by barring medically supervised abortions after six weeks, it forces those who can't travel to self-induce, which opens the door to prosecutions like this," he said.

The bottom line, via Vladeck: The prosecution is "an incredibly ominous harbinger of what the world will look like far beyond Texas" if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S.

  • Representatives for Starr County did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper: What abortion access would look like if Roe v. Wade is overturned

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