Prosecutors Sued for Charging Woman Who Took Abortion Pill

Murder count in Texas was dropped, but Lizelle Gonzalez says harm was done
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2024 3:50 PM CDT
Prosecutors Sued for Charging Woman Who Took Abortion Pill
Demonstrators gather near the Texas Capitol following the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, in Austin.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

The murder charge against Lizelle Gonzalez were dropped quickly, and the Texas prosecutor who brought it was punished. But Gonzalez has sued the district attorney for more than $1 million, in a filing that says the humiliation of her arrest and jailing for taking an abortion-inducing drug has "permanently affected her standing in the community," the New York Times reports. "The fallout from defendants' illegal and unconstitutional actions has forever changed" Gonzalez's life, the suit says. It names Starr County, District Attorney Gocha Ramirez, and Assistant District Attorney Alexandria Lynn Barrera.

Gonzalez had gone to a county hospital after taking the drug misoprostol 19 weeks into her pregnancy. Hospital employees reported her to the district attorney's office, the suit says, which violates federal privacy laws. Ramirez's staff then investigated, the Texas Tribune reports the suit claims, not police or sheriff's officials. Barrera and Ramirez presented the case to a grand jury. Gonzalez was arrested in April 2022 and held for two nights in the county jail on $500,000 bond. Advocates raised the money for her release, and Ramirez three days later asked for the charges to be dismissed, saying it was clear that Texas law did not allow for the prosecution.

A Texas bar investigation agreed that the actions by Gonzalez, who then went by Lizelle Herrera, were not criminal. Ramirez agreed to pay a $1,250 fine, and his license was being held in probated suspension for a year. The suit says Gonzalez is suing not just because of the emotional and reputational harm, but to "vindicate her rights but also to hold accountable the government officials who violated them." (More abortion rights stories.)

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