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A prosecutor in Starr County, Texas moved to dismiss criminal charges against a Texas woman who gave herself an abortion. Lizelle Herrera was arrested for murder following an alleged self-induced abortion.
Ms. Herrera was charged with the death of a fetus or embryo. Her arrest following her abortion led to outcries across the country, including protests on her behalf.
Ms. Herrera’s home state of Texas currently has extremely restrictive laws limiting women’s reproductive rights. Abortion is illegal past six weeks gestation, long before most women even know they are pregnant.
Restrictive Texas abortion laws impact Black, Hispanic women disproportionately
Weeks after Ms. Herrera’s arrest, Starr County District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez stated, “In reviewing applicable Texas law, it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her.” DA Ramirez will strike the charges today.
Abortion rights have come under scrutiny following Texas’ law SB 8. In the time since the law banning abortions went into effect, hundreds of women have sought alternative ways to obtain an abortion.
Meanwhile, such restrictions on women’s rights impact Black women and Black families every day. Rates of unplanned pregnancies among Black women are more than double that of White women.
Additionally, Black women are less likely to have access to comprehensive sex education, as well as opportunities for reproductive health care, especially in states like Texas. Black women are also more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than other populations.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “Just like slavery, anti-abortion efforts are rooted in white supremacy, the exploitation of Black women, and placing women’s bodies in service to men.”
Questions remain about Ms. Herrera’s arrest and criminal charges. Texas’ law SB8 allows people to sue individuals who “aid and abet” an abortion, but does not specify criminal charges against an individual who obtains an abortion.
The Supreme Court, including recently confirmed Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, will soon rule on women’s reproductive rights nationwide. In December 2021, SCOTUS heard arguments from a Mississippi case restricting abortion past 15 weeks, a case whose ruling will impact whether Roe V Wade survives.