Last week in Texas, 26-year-old Lizelle Herrera was arrested and charged with murder for a suspected self-induced abortion. Her bail was set at $500,000. She has since been bailed out the DA has dropped all charges because of course self-inducing an abortion is not a criminal act in Texas (yet). We know very little about what led up to this except that she went to the hospital while miscarrying and someone there (presumably in violation of HIPAA) called the cops and reported her for saying she’d attempted to induce her own abortion.
It might seem astonishing that a person could be indicted by a grand jury and have their bond set at half a million dollars due to being accused of something that is not against the law, but that’s an outcome of the overall confusion and suspicion toward pregnant women that S.B. 8 was intended to introduce.
This is the sort of thing that we’ve known would happen and it’s one of the reasons why I don’t understand the pro-life position, especially from women. If women don’t have full legal ownership over their own bodies while pregnant, then they are legally and publicly owned while pregnant and subject to general surveillance. This potentially puts them under suspicion after undergoing one of the most tragic and common outcomes of even the most wanted pregnancies. If somebody says you had a glass of wine, are you guilty? What if you had two? What if you smoke? What if you told everybody that you didn’t want a baby? What if you’re obese? What if you’re drug addicted? What if you drove recklessly? What if you did a home birth? What if you suffered a sports-related injury? What if you have some preexisting condition that makes pregnancy inadvisable?
In the relief over the DA dropping charges this time, it’s important to recall that Brittany Poolaw is still in prison in Oklahoma for miscarrying at four months, for which she was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison. This wasn’t even because she attempted to self-induce; it’s because she did meth (note that it’s not established that her doing meth was the contributing factor, or even a contributing factor to her miscarriage, but even if it was, she shouldn’t be in prison). She is one of about 1200 such cases over the past 12 years that the National Advocates of Pregnant Women have recorded. We can expect to see that number rise further with these new laws.