Woman Who Was Charged With Murder After Abortion Sues Texas Prosecutor

A woman in Texas who was falsely charged with murder over a self-induced abortion in 2022 has filed a lawsuit against the local prosecutor’s office and its leaders, seeking more than $1 million in damages.

Lizelle Gonzalez was arrested in April 2022 in Starr County, near the southeastern border with Mexico, and charged with murder after using the drug misoprostol to self-induce an abortion, 19 weeks into her pregnancy. She spent two nights in jail before the charge was dropped.

Self-induced abortions can refer to those performed outside of professional medical care, including the use of abortion pills. Under Texas law at the time, abortions after six weeks were illegal, but pregnant women are exempt from criminal prosecution. (Health care professionals who provide abortion procedures and medication, and others who help someone get an abortion, can still be liable.)

Ms. Gonzalez, who was known as Lizelle Herrera and 26 at the time of her arrest, filed a complaint on Thursday against Starr County, along with its district attorney, Gocha Ramirez, and assistant district attorney, Alexandria Lynn Barrera. She argues that the arrest and charge resulted in her suffering reputational harm and distress, and seeks to “vindicate her rights but also to hold accountable the government officials who violated them,” according to her lawsuit.

Ms. Gonzalez and her lawyers were not immediately available for comment on Saturday.

Mr. Ramirez and Ms. Barrera also did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit. A month ago, the state bar of Texas found that Mr. Ramirez had unlawfully prosecuted Ms. Gonzalez without probable cause and fined him $1,250. His law license will also be held in probated suspension for a year, which means he must comply with specific requirements but can practice law during that time. That period starts April 1.

According to the complaint, Ms. Gonzalez took the abortion medication in January 2022 and went to the hospital for an examination. Doctors found a positive heartbeat for the baby and no contractions, so she was discharged the next day. But later that day, she returned to the hospital with complaints of vaginal bleeding, and doctors performed a C-section to deliver a stillborn child.

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