The attorneys for Mr. Ramirez and Ms. Herrera, Calixtro Villarreal, did not respond to requests for comment.
It was not immediately known under which statute Ms Herrera was charged. An abortion ban that went into effect in Texas in September, known as SB 8, bans abortion after six weeks but leaves enforcement to citizens, offering them rewards of at least $10,000 for successful lawsuits against anyone who assists or encourages”.
The Texas legislature subsequently passed another law, SB 4, which establishes a criminal offense — a state offense punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to two years in prison — for providing medical abortion pills after 49 days. pregnancy, or for health care providers who fail to comply with a series of new regulations and procedures. The law also exempts pregnant women from prosecution.
Part of the Texas Penal Code exempts expectant mothers from charges of murder in connection with “the death of an unborn child.” Most states instead target abortion providers when an abortion is considered illegal.
In most of the country, abortion is prohibited after the fetus is viable, usually after 22 to 24 weeks of gestation. However, several states are planning to ban abortion at much earlier stages, pending the U.S. Supreme Court soon overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a woman’s constitutional right to abortion and banned those states from the procedure before. to ban. a fetus is viable.
The Texas Right to Life anti-abortion group supported Mr Ramirez’s decision to drop the charges. SB 8 and other anti-abortion policies in the state “clearly prohibit criminal prosecution of pregnant women,” the organization said in a statement. “Texas Right to Life opposes prosecutors going beyond the bounds of Texas’ prudent and carefully crafted policies.”
Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said the prosecutor’s reversal reflected what Mr. Vladeck said was a misreading of the law.
“I think this really suggests that this was a hasty decision, by a local prosecutor who may not have fully understood what the law does and does not prohibit, as opposed to being part of a wider campaign of animosity against abortion,” he said. said Vladeck. But he added that it is only a matter of time before more cases like this occur.
“I think this case is also a sobering reminder of how much discretion prosecutors have — even when they’re wrong about the law,” he said. “And how difficult it is, especially for those less familiar with the system, for those with fewer resources, for them to backtrack on the prosecution’s mistakes or excessive scope. And that is a phenomenon that goes far beyond abortion.”
Kate Zernike reporting contributed. Jack Begg research contributed.