Woman charged with murder after abortion sues Texas county, prosecutor



GettyImages 930910722 e1700063890410

Lizelle Gonzalez, a Texas woman wrongfully charged with murder in 2022 for a purported self-induced abortion, filed a lawsuit Thursday against Starr County, District Attorney Gocha Ramirez and Assistant District Attorney Alexandria Barrera.

Gonzalez, whose last name was Herrera at the time of her arrest, went to the county’s emergency room on Jan. 7, 2022, after using misoprostol to “purportedly induce an abortion” when she was 19 weeks pregnant, according to the lawsuit.

Doctors found a fetal heartbeat and no contractions when she was examined. After staying overnight, Gonzalez was discharged and told to follow up in four days. She returned 40 minutes later with vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain. Doctors determined at that point there was no fetal heartbeat, so they performed a cesarean section to deliver the stillborn baby.

Gonzalez was arrested three months later, on April 7, 2022. She spent three days incarcerated at the Starr County Jail before she was released, “when Defendant Ramirez made the decision to dismiss the unfounded charges against her.”

At the time, Texas had a six-week abortion ban, but state law also exempted women from facing criminal prosecution for getting abortions.

The lawsuit alleges Ramirez and Barrera knew the Texas penal code exempted abortions from criminal charges and that they “proceeded to provide the grand jury with false and misleading information and omissions in order to secure” a murder charge for the abortion.

“Had Defendants Ramirez and Barrera been truthful, there would not have been any legal basis for the indictment and ensuing arrest,” the lawsuit alleges.

“Upon information and belief, Defendants Ramirez and Barrera, conspired to, and did, present false information and recklessly misrepresented facts in order to pursue murder charges against Plaintiff for acts clearly not criminal under the Texas Penal Code,” the complaint continued.

Further, the lawsuit alleges that neither the sheriff’s office nor the local police department investigated Gonzalez or the facts and circumstances that led up to the murder charge.

Instead, the lawsuit claims, the DA’s office “initiated and performed its own investigation based on reports from hospital personnel,” which would have been done “in violation of federal privacy laws.”

Ramirez was disciplined professionally for “his knowing conduct in prosecuting Plaintiff for acts clearly not criminal,” according to the lawsuit.

Still, however, “the fallout from Defendants’ illegal and unconstitutional actions has forever changed the Plaintiff’s life,” according to Gonzalez’s lawyers. They point to the significant national media attention the case received at the time.

Gonzalez’s mug shot was widely circulated on various news media, and she was identified by name, the lawyers said, noting that the “unfounded charges” can still be found online.

“Furthermore, because the charges stemmed from abortion – a hot button political agenda – the dismissal of the charges did not result in any less media attention. Rather, the media attention was heightened after the dismissal due to the fact that the prosecution was frivolous,” the lawsuit reads.

“As a result of the Defendants’ unconstitutional actions, Plaintiff was subjected to the humiliation of a highly publicized indictment and arrest, which has permanently affected her standing in the community. But for Defendants’ conduct, Plaintiff would not have suffered these harms.”

Gonzalez is asking for more than $1 million in damages, including for mental anguish and reputational damage, as well as past and future lost wages and earning capacity.

The Hill has contacted Starr County, Ramirez and Barrera for a response.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top