The Most Unexpected Consequence of the Texas Abortion Ban

APRIL 24, 2022

In a third-floor medical suite with sweeping views of a Texas highway, staff members at Houston Women’s Reproductive Services are adapting to the new demands the state’s restrictive abortion law has placed on their jobs.

They try to schedule every patient for a visit on the same day she calls, lest that patient lose a single valuable day of the narrow window for care. They linger on the phone with frantic women who are already terrified that they’ll be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, even though they are just a day or two late on their period. And they have pivoted, in many cases, to dispensing emotional and logistical support instead of medical care.


Lizelle Herrera’s case highlights the misunderstood realities of abortion access, criminalization, and advocacy in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley

Cross-movement collaboration at the intersections of criminal and reproductive justice helped local organizers mobilize quickly

by Tina Vásquez
April 21st, 2022

On April 8, a small news outlet covering Texas’ Rio Grande Valley published a story that sent shockwaves through the reproductive justice movement. A woman named Lizelle Herrera was arrested April 7 by the Starr County Sheriff’s Office and charged with murder for allegedly having a self-induced abortion, which is when a person chooses to perform their own abortion outside of a medical setting. According to her indictment, Herrera “intentionally and knowingly” caused “the death of an individual.” She was held at the Starr County Jail, and her bond was set at $500,000.

In the days since Herrera’s story was made public, there has been a great deal of reporting about whether her criminalization was simply “a hasty error” by a district attorney or a case that should be treated as “a warning” that “foreshadows [a] post-Roe future.” But for reproductive justice advocates in Texas who are forced to navigate some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, Herrera’s case isn’t merely a sign of what’s to come; it’s a reality that low-income women of color overwhelmingly shoulder. It’s also the inevitable result of complicated, convoluted anti-abortion laws.


Why Pregnant Texans Are Heading to Mexico for Abortions

Just as Texas has tightened its laws surrounding abortion, Mexico has gone the opposite direction, compelling people to seek potentially less safe procedures south of the border.

Published Apr. 20, 2022

By Colleen DeGuzman, Kaiser Health News

Veronica Hernandez, manager of Whole Woman’s Health of McAllen, has long
worried about the patients she sees walk in through the front door. Now,
though, her concern is focused on those she doesn’t see.

A Texas law that went into effect in September outlaws abortions after cardiac
activity is detected in an embryo, usually at six weeks of pregnancy, and is
considered the nation’s most restrictive abortion law. The law, which the
Supreme Court has so far refused to block, makes no exception for victims of
rape or incest and does not call on public officials to enforce it. Instead, it
allows private citizens and groups to sue anyone who has provided an abortion
or aided someone seeking an abortion in Texas. If the private citizens win the
case, they are entitled to damages of at least $10,000.


Texas advocates file new legal challenge to near-total abortion ban

Lawsuit asks court to rule SB 8 unconstitutional, citing public threats and legal action from anti-abortion activists

Mary Tuma
Tue 19 Apr 2022

Reproductive rights advocates in Texas have filed a new legal challenge to halt a near-total abortion ban that has been in effect for more than half a year.

Senate Bill 8 bars abortion once embryonic cardiac activity is detected – typically as early as six week of pregnancy, which is before most people are aware they are pregnant – and offers no exception for rape or incest. The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, asks a federal court to rule the extreme law unconstitutional. It cites public threats and legal action from anti-abortion activists against Texas abortion funds, groups that have been instrumental in helping patients travel out of state for care, arguing that this conduct has chilled their first amendment rights.


How Grassroots Activists Forced a Texas District Attorney to Drop Murder Charges for Self-Induced Abortion


On Thursday, April 7, Texas police in the Rio Grande Valley arrested a woman and charged her with murder for allegedly self-inducing an abortion last January. The Starr County Sherriff’s Department detained 26-year-old Lizelle Herrera in a jail near the Texas-Mexico border on a $500,000 bail bond.

Reproductive justice advocates in the community organized a protest at the Starr County Jail on Saturday morning and urged people to call the jail demanding the release of Herrera. Calls poured in from across the country. By Saturday afternoon, If/When/How’s Repro Legal Defense Fund paid Herrera’s bail and she was released.


A call, a text, an apology: How an abortion arrest shook up a Texas town

The arrest and since-dropped murder charge against a 26-year-old woman stoked widespread outrage and confusion.

By Caroline Kitchener, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites
April 13, 2022

Calixtro Villarreal’s phone rang Saturday afternoon, about 48 hours after his client, Lizelle Herrera, was arrested and charged with murder — over what local authorities alleged was a “self-induced abortion.”

It was Gocha Ramirez, the district attorney in Starr County, Tex., a remote area on the border with Mexico. Herrera should never have been charged, Ramirez told the lawyer, according to a person familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private interactions.


The Texas woman arrested for an abortion is a harbinger of what’s to come

By Paul Waldman, Columnist, Washington Post
April 11, 2022

Can you picture a United States where women who get abortions — which about a quarter of women will do at some point in their lives — are routinely arrested and imprisoned for murder? Not just one here or there, but by the hundreds or thousands?

I can’t help but wonder if whichever local law enforcement official who ordered a 26-year-old Texas woman be arrested and charged with murder after a “self-induced abortion” was getting ahead of themselves, thinking that day had already come. The district attorney will be dismissing the charges, since, for now, Texas law doesn’t allow for the prosecution of women for having an abortion, self-induced or otherwise.


Why was a woman in Texas arrested for an abortion?

APR 11, 2022

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.


Texas Will Dismiss Murder Charge Against Woman Connected to ‘Self-Induced Abortion’

A district attorney said on Sunday that the woman “cannot and should not” be prosecuted.

By Giulia Heyward and Sophie Kasakove
Published April 10, 2022

The murder charge against a woman in Texas in connection with a “self-induced abortion” will be dismissed, a Texas district attorney announced Sunday.

Gocha Allen Ramirez, the district attorney of Starr County, said in a statement that, after reviewing the case, he will file a motion on Monday to dismiss the indictment against the woman, Lizelle Herrera, 26.


Charges Dropped Against Texas Woman for ‘Self-Induced Illegal Abortion’: ‘Not a Criminal Matter’

Lizelle Herrera was arrested on a murder charge Thursday and detained in the Starr County jail in Rio Grande City, Texas, before she was released on a $500,000 bond on Saturday

by Shafiq Najib
April 10, 2022

A 26-year-old woman accused of committing "self-induced illegal abortion" was taken into custody on Thursday by the Starr County Sheriff's Department in Texas, however, her charge has since been dropped.

Lizelle Herrera was arrested on a murder count, according to a statement provided by Sheriff's Maj. Carlos Delgado, the Associated Press reports. She remained jailed until Saturday in Rio Grande City, Texas, when she was released on a $500,000 bond.