How A Miscarriage In Texas Led To A Murder Charge | Crooked Media
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April 11, 2022
What A Day
How A Miscarriage In Texas Led To A Murder Charge

In This Episode

  • Texas authorities arrested 26-year-old Lizelle Herrera, last week, on murder charges for what the local sheriff’s office described as a “self-induced abortion.” Her bond was set at $500,000 and her arrest sparked protests from abortion rights activists over the weekend. But on Sunday, local prosecutors dropped the charge against her.
  • More than 50 people were killed and another 98 injured after a missile struck a train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, last Friday. Thousands of people were trying to board trains to evacuate the city since Russian forces began to shift the focus of the war to eastern Ukraine.
  • And in headlines: Pakistan’s Parliament voted to remove Prime Minister Imran Khan from office, French voters took to the polls to pick their next president, and former President Donald Trump endorsed Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz.

 

 

Transcript

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, April 11th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day, where we’re supporting unionization efforts at Starbucks by asking baristas to write our name on our cups as Cesar Chavez.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, we don’t know whether this gesture is understood or appreciated, but we’re sticking with it anyway.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Just making our impact, one latte at a time.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, it’ll be incumbent Emmanuel Macron against far right nationalist Marine Le Pen in a runoff for France’s presidency. Plus, Ben Affleck and J.Lo are engaged again.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But first, let’s tell you about a story that rapidly developed this past weekend and Starr County, Texas, which is right on the southern border. On Thursday, 26-year old Lizelle Herrera was arrested on murder charges after what the local sheriff’s office described as a self-induced abortion. According to Rickie Gonzalez, the founder of La Frontera Fund, an abortion fund in the area, Herrera quote, “miscarried at a hospital and allegedly confided to hospital staff that she had attempted to induce her own abortion, and she was reported to the authorities” by hospital administration or staff. Herrera’s bond was Senate $500,000. This weekend. La Frontera Fund protested outside of the Star County Jail.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: So Josie, this was obviously horrifying, especially in a moment where abortion rights will likely be all but destroyed in the coming months by the Supreme Court. What does Texas law say about arresting people for, quote, “self-induced abortions”?

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, that’s right, Tre’vell. Her arrest was not only terrifying, but it was very confusing since it wasn’t clear what law Herrera even allegedly broke, right? In September. Texas passed SB8, a law that we’ve discussed a ton on this show, that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy but that’s a civil law, not a criminal one, and it only allows consequences for people who helped facilitate an abortion, not for the person who has one. In fact, Texas law explicitly prohibits authorities from filing criminal charges against someone who has an abortion. So that’s why on Sunday, the local district attorney, Gocha Ramirez, said that he would dismiss the case against Herrera, stating quote, “The issues surrounding this matter are clearly contentious, however, based on Texas law and the facts presented, it is not a criminal matter.”

 

Tre’vell Anderson: OK, so Herrera is likely going to avoid prosecution for this particular incident. But there are still major takeaways from her arrest. So Josie, talk us through some of them.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: A lot of issues here. A lot is wrong. But just to talk about some of them, so the first thing to remember is that this happened in a world where, at least in theory, Roe is good law and abortion rights exist. If people are getting arrested when abortion is legal and when their arrest is explicitly outlawed under Texas law, what is going to happen when Roe is likely struck down in the very near future, right? And that is the future we are facing. These conservative states are passing laws, they’re ready to punish people who choose to exercise bodily autonomy, which means that criminalization of people, primarily women, is going to explode. It really is.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And it will probably go further than self-induced abortions as well.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, that’s exactly right, Tre’vell. And it already has. And this is important to keep in mind because Herrera is getting a lot of press, but we’ve actually seen arrests like this before, and fairly regularly, right? In October, Brittney Poolaw was convicted in Oklahoma of first degree manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison. Brittney had had a miscarriage at four months, and she admitted that she had used drugs during her pregnancy. There’s no evidence that those drugs led to her miscarriage, but it really shouldn’t matter, right, because law enforcement should not be regulating people’s pregnancies in that way regardless. But you know, there are other cases like this. There are cases of women being prosecuted for putting a fetus in danger or for what is functionally a miscarriage, right? So if Roe is overturned, how long until many, many more people are punished for miscarrying or for endangering a fetus, quote unquote? What happens when a woman, for example, has a glass of wine when she’s pregnant and then later miscarriages? Will she be arrested? How long until we start arresting people for using the morning after pill or using birth control? Where is this headed? And I think that is one of the really scary things about this arrest.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, there’s definitely like, a slippery slope situation that seems to be here. What else do you think is worth keeping in mind with this?

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Again, there’s so much, right, including the fact that the hospital reported Herrera to authorities, a truly awful and unethical thing to do to a person seeking medical help. But the major major thing to keep in mind here is the role of law enforcement in the potential post-Roe future, right? That the sheriff’s office would either not know or not care about the law and arrest someone for murder when arrest is explicitly outlawed under the law, it’s terrifying. Tre’vell, sheriffs don’t get a lot of attention as a rule, but they tend to be some of the most powerful people in law enforcement and also some of the most right-wing, which is saying a lot. I would suggest subscribing to Jessica Pishko’s newsletter Posse Comitatus for more on sheriffs. It’s really phenomenal. There is no doubt in my mind that sheriffs will play a major role in the policing and punishment of those who exercise the right to abortion if Roe is overturned. And it’s not just the sheriff that’s concerning here, right, it’s the power of the prosecutor as well. In this case, the prosecutor did the right thing and dropped the case, though I think he should have expressed significantly more outrage than he did. But what if the prosecutor had been aligned with the sheriff, right? What if he had dragged this out? He could have tried to make a case here, and even if he was ultimately unsuccessful, Herrera could have potentially sat in jail for months. This prosecutor didn’t say, I will never prosecute someone for abortion. He said, Right now, that’s not legal. But what about when that is legal? How will he use his discretion? If Roe is overturned prosecutors and police will have a ton of control over the arrest and punishment of women and people who exercise bodily autonomy. And this is particularly true for poor people and people of color, who are already disproportionately arrested and prosecuted under the law. And that disparity will only get worse. So, yeah, Tre’vell, Herrera’s arrest was a big deal, not only because it was very upsetting, but also because it’s relatively unheard of. But I’m really afraid that situations like this are going to become all too common in the future.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, it’s not looking good.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s really not.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s bring people an update on Ukraine. Last Friday, more than 50 people were killed and another 98 injured after a missile struck a train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk. Thousands of people, mostly women and children, were trying to board trains to evacuate the city since Russian forces began to shift the focus of the war to eastern Ukraine. Other cities that were shelled out over the weekend include Sevierdonetsk, where a pair of residential buildings and a school were hit—no casualties were reported there—and Dnipro, where Russian forces hit an industrial facility and an airport, wounding at least six people.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So what more do we know about this move away from places like Mariupol and Kiev?

 

Tre’vell Anderson: According to experts, Russian troops are actually more skilled at fighting in a rural terrain, which would explain why and how Ukrainian forces have held up better than expected thus far. With Russia moving to new terrain in eastern Ukraine, which has a lot more wide-open spaces, that will make it harder for the type of guerrilla operations Ukrainians have found successful in the north and west of their country. Over the weekend, satellite images showed hundreds of military vehicles, in particular a convoy stretching eight miles, moving through the East. And Russian forces also prevented busses from evacuating civilians in three cities in the east, breaching an agreement brokered by the Red Cross.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, that’s really scary. According to updated figures from the United Nations, more than 4.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the war began, which was just a little less than two months ago. So how else have folks been impacted?

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So like throughout all of this, I somehow missed the factoid that Ukraine and Russia are considered the breadbasket of Europe. The two countries account for almost 30% of global wheat exports, almost 20% of corn exports and more than 80% of the world’s supply of sunflower oil. Because of the invasion, all of that has been impacted, which one expert said is like, for comparison, the states of Iowa and Illinois, which are the heart of our grain production here in the U.S., being ripped off the map. Ukraine has already lost at least $1.5 billion in grain exports since the war began. In Russia, the world’s leading grain exporter hasn’t been able to export much due to the trade sanctions that they’re facing. The result is the start of a global food crisis that, according to the head of the UN’s World Food Program a few weeks ago, we haven’t seen anything like since World War II. Meanwhile, there are reports that NATO is working on plans for a permanent military presence on its border. But according to NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, a final decision on that wouldn’t be made until a NATO summit set for June in Madrid. So there is a lot more for us to keep an eye on there, but that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads.

 

[ad break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines.

 

[sung] Headlines.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: After being reinstated by the country’s Supreme Court, Pakistan’s parliament voted to remove Prime Minister Imran Khan from office on Sunday. The vote passed by a simple majority with 174 lawmakers voting against the now-former prime minister. This comes after Khan dissolved the country’s parliament last week in an effort to stop the vote from happening altogether. The case then went to Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which agreed with Khan’s opponents, who argue that his actions were a quote, “open coup against the country and the Constitution.” Since the results of the vote were announced, Khan has called upon his supporters to take to the streets in protest of his ousting, and maintained the baseless claim that the U.S. is behind the effort to remove him. It’s now up to Parliament to choose Khan’s successor, who is set to be elected and sworn in today.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: French voters took to the polls yesterday to pick their next president. After the first round, the 12 candidates have been whittled down to two for a runoff: incumbent President Emmanuel Macron against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. That runoff will be on April 24th. The two ran against each other back in 2017, where centrist candidate Macron won by a landslide. Macron is now running for a third term but he and Le Pen are expected to have a tighter runoff battle this time around due to increased polarization in French politics. Le Pen has a history of nationalist and xenophobic beliefs. She’s known for her support for restrictive immigration policies and efforts to ban Muslim headscarves in public places. The final results of the French election will be hugely important on the world stage. Macron is a strong supporter of NATO and has backed the European Union sanctions against Russia during the war. Meanwhile, Le Pen has been labeled as a Putin sympathizer. Even those who lost yesterday’s elections are warning against a Le Pen victory. Conservative presidential candidate Valery Pecresse said Le Pen’s win would quote, “open France to discord, impotence, and collapse.” Not a resounding endorsement, I would say. That’s pretty bad.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: There is an update to the House Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection: according to The New York Times, it has enough evidence to recommend that the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump. If you turned on a computer or TV at any point in January 2021, you may have enough evidence as well. But committee leaders are split on whether to take this next step or not. It would largely be symbolic, since the DOJ already seems to be ramping up its investigation. And some also pointed out that making a recommendation could politicize the process and hamper the DOJ’s broader probe into the riots. House Representative and committee member Liz Cheney confirmed parts of the New York Times report yesterday on CNN’s State of the Union, but she denied that there was any conflict within the committee.

 

[clip of Rep. Liz Cheney] There’s not really a dispute on the committee. The committee is working in a really collaborative way to discuss these issues.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Meanwhile, Trump has been busy helping to boost the political career of his fellow ‘guy in a suit from TV’. On Saturday, he announced his support for candidate for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz or Dr. Oz, who came to prominence following his appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Republican candidates in the battleground state have been vying for the former president’s support in the race to replace retiring Senator Pat Toomey. This weekend, Trump called Oz the most electable candidate because of his TV stardom, saying quote, “You know, when you’re in television for 18 years, that’s like a poll. That means people like you.”—this is the same reason why I’m forming a PAC to draft the Aflac duck. The man in this race Trump previously believed was most electable was Sean Parnell. He endorsed him last year, but Parnell left the race amid allegations of domestic abuse.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, if we just elected everybody we watched on TV, things would somehow be even worse than they are right now so that feels like a rough assumption.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: The early 2000s reached out to the sands of time to give us all a warm hug late last week when Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez announced their engagement. J.Lo shared the news on Friday. A consummate businesswoman, she required fans to sign up for her email newsletter, ‘On the J.Lo’ to get a first look at her ring, giving herself an engagement gift called new subscribers. The duo, known as Bennifer, first got engaged 20 years ago—wild—but they broke it off in 2004, the same year that Facebook launched, George W. Bush won a second term as president and Ashlee Simpson got caught lip synching on SNL. No wedding date has been announced yet, but we will, of course, keep you posted. And in news about other people who have had an iron grip on the culture for the last two to three decades, will Smith has officially been punished for his unscripted fight choreography at the Academy Awards last month. For slapping Chris Rock during the broadcast, the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has banned him from attending any academy events for the next 10 years. Sad news: we’re also reporting here for the first time ever, if you post any new takes on this event from this point forward, you are banned from the academy as well.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes!

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But I’m still going to do my takes because I’m never going to be up for an Oscar anyway, so my takes are coming.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: We don’t need those takes, Josie.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I know!

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I love you so much but we’re over it.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I know. We’re over it. And I agree with you before my take and I agree with you right after my take. I promise, I am with you.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: One more thing before we go: check out the latest episode of Offline. This week, the Co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, Ev Williams joins Jon Favreau to talk about Twitter’s early years—remember those years? What a time—Elon Musk, and if Donald Trump should be allowed back on the site, New episodes of Offline drop every Sunday wherever you get your podcasts.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, party like it’s 2004, and tell your friends to listen.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And if you are into reading, and not just messages sent through time from the Ashlee Simpson lip syncing era like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’m. Tre’vell Anderson.

 

[together] And draft the Aflac duck!

 

Josie Duffy Rice: We should do it.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Quack, quack.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: He only says like a couple of things.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Which is the reason why we should do it. We would only have to hear one or two lines for the rest of our lives.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s honestly a step up from the current TV stars. At least there’s only a couple of things that could go wrong when all you say is quack.

 

Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.

 

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