By Tommy Nguyen
AUSTIN, TX – Texas District Attorneys released this week a joint statement addressing their take on the case of Lizelle Herrera, expressing their disagreement with the state’s efforts to criminalize personal medical decisions, and pledging to condemn such distorted use of the criminal legal system.
This past weekend, a tragic incident played out in Texas as Lizelle Herrera, a 26-year-old woman, was accused of committing self-induced illegal abortion and arrested on a murder count.
Herrera was held in jail for three days before being released on a $500,000 bond. Her charge had been dismissed by Starr County District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez.
Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales joined four other elected District Attorneys who condemn the use of justice system to prosecute Texans for personal health care decisions.
They have released a statement expressing support for DA Ramirez’s decision to drop the charge against Herrera.
“This tragic incident is a troubling but unsurprising outgrowth of the misguided efforts in various parts of the country to outlaw personal healthcare and reproductive decisions,” said Gonzales.
Gonzales added, “Many of these enactments have the potential to fuel attempts by some to criminalize patients, medical professionals, healthcare providers, and others who assist in these medical procedures.”
The District Attorneys believe prosecutors play an important role in entangling the criminal justice system by resisting these efforts of asserting control over people’s health care decisions.
They also note that having an abortion is extremely personal and never a decision that anyone would take lightly, and women who have chosen to terminate their pregnancy are not and should not be perceived as criminals under “any reasonable interpretation of the law.”
Since SB8, Texas legislation that bans abortion after six weeks, was passed, it has forced women in desperate situations to resort to illegal and dangerous procedures of terminating their pregnancies.
“Sadly, we have witnessed these same dangerous tragedies before when the government has taken away a woman’s right to make choices about her body,” said Gonzales. “Making abortion illegal does not end abortion, it simply ends safe abortion for too many.”
As elected prosecutors, the Texas District Attorneys note they are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of their people, as well as protecting the integrity of the justice system and upholding the rule of law.
For that reason, they said, they have pledged to not “prosecute or criminalize personal healthcare decisions – it is not what a system grounded in compassion, justice, or equity should be about.”
The DAs refused to condone the cruelty of the current system that is putting women in great danger by punishing them for seeking medical help with their personal health care decisions.
“We promise to continue fighting for the rights of women in this state and elsewhere and using our discretion as prosecutors to avoid these tragic results,” Gonzales said.