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Texas woman sues prosecutors, charging her with murder after self-induced abortion

MCALLEN, Texas (AP) — A Texas woman accused of murder and spending two nights in jail for performing a self-induced abortion has sued prosecutors at the U.S.-Mexico border, who launched a criminal case. It was later withdrawn.

Lizelle Gonzalez filed the lawsuit in federal court Thursday, a month after the Texas Bar Association filed a lawsuit Refined and disciplined The case was heard by the rural Starr County District Attorney in 2022, when Gonzalez was charged with murder for “self-inflicted abortion resulting in death.”

Under abortion restrictions in Texas and other states, women seeking abortions are protected from criminal charges.

The lawsuit claims Gonzalez was harmed by the arrest and subsequent media coverage. She is seeking $1 million in damages.

“The consequences of Defendants’ unlawful and unconstitutional conduct have forever changed Plaintiffs’ lives,” the lawsuit states.

Starr County District Attorney Gocha Ramirez said Friday that he had not yet been served with the lawsuit and declined to comment. Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, the county’s top elected official, also declined to comment.

According to the lawsuit, Gonzalez was 19 weeks pregnant when she took misoprostol. use one of two medications In medical abortion, misoprostol is also used to treat stomach ulcers.

After taking the medication, Gonzalez underwent an obstetric check-up at the hospital emergency room and was discharged because of abdominal pain. The next day, she came back with bleeding and found no fetal heartbeat. Doctors performed a caesarean section and the baby was stillborn.

The lawsuit alleges the hospital violated the patient’s privacy rights when it reported the abortion to the district attorney’s office, which then conducted its own investigation and filed murder charges against Gonzalez.

Gonzalez’s attorney, Cecilia Garza, said the prosecution went ahead even though prosecutors knew women who had abortions were exempt from murder charges under state law.

Ramirez announced that the charges would be dropped days after the woman’s arrest, but not before she spent two nights in jail and was named a murder suspect.

In February, Ramirez agreed to pay a $1,250 fine and settled with the State Bar of Texas, suspending his license for 12 months. He told The Associated Press at the time that he “made a mistake” and agreed to accept the punishment because it allowed his office to keep running and he could continue prosecuting cases.

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