Texas lawyer charged after allegedly slipping abortion drug into wife’s drink

Mason Herring, a Texas attorney who was charged after prosecutors alleged that he tried to induce an abortion by spiking his wife's drinks. Harris County Sheriff's Office

A Texas lawyer is facing charges after prosecutors say he spiked his wife’s drinks with an abortion-inducing drug because he was unhappy about the pregnancy. The pair had recently separated after 11 years of marriage and she became suspicious when he kept offering her sometimes cloudy or unsealed beverages.

Despite the alleged poisonings, which began in March, the baby was born healthy, though slightly premature, local TV station KTRK reported.

Mason Herring, the founder of a law firm specializing in oil and gas, is the first person in Harris County, Texas to face charges of assault-force induction of an abortion under a law that was brought into effect this year under a statute that also criminalized abortions in the state. The charges, which also include assault of a pregnant person, carry a potential sentence of two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to US$10,000.

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According to court documents obtained by the Associated Press and KTRK, the couple were attending marriage counselling in February when Herring’s wife told him that she was pregnant. Later on in a series of text messages, Herring, 38, expressed that he was unhappy with the news.

In March, prosecutors say Herring brought his wife breakfast at their house, where he no longer lived. While visiting, he began lecturing her on staying hydrated and offered her water.

“The complainant drank out of the cup and stopped to take a breath. She noticed the water appeared to be cloudy,” court documents read. “She questioned the defendant about this. He stated perhaps the cup was dirty or the pipes were dirty.”

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After she finished drinking, Herring allegedly took the cup and left, according to Anthony Osso, an assistant district attorney assigned to the case who spoke to KTRK. Within 30 minutes, the woman said she became very ill and had to go to the emergency room, where doctors were dumbfounded by her symptoms.

After the mysterious incident, Herring’s wife became suspicious of him based on his reaction to her pregnancy, Osso said, and decided to set up cameras in her house.

Over the course of a month, Herring’s wife says her husband brought her drinks six times, which she didn’t drink and instead kept as evidence.

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In one instance, “The complainant stated the defendant gave her a bottle of orange juice, and she observed the seal on the bottle was broken,” said documents read in court.

At one point, the woman’s surveillance cameras caught Herring taking a bag of powder out of his pocket and putting it into a drink he then gave his wife, prosecutor say.

“She observed the defendant cleaned out his truck and took the trash out to the curb. She stated this was out of character for the defendant, as he does not do chores around the house. When the defendant left, the complainant went to the trash can to see what was inside,” court documents read.

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There, Herring’s wife found an opened blister pack of a Mexican drug called Cyrux, which contains misoprostol, a medicine used to induce abortions. Shortly after, the pregnant woman contacted the police and Herring was arrested.

Six water samples that the woman saved were later tested at an Oklahoma lab, Osso said, and at least two of them contained misoprostol.

“It’s manipulative,” Osso said. “It’s pre-meditated. What we are alleging Mr. Herring did, which we believe the evidence supports, is a pretty heinous act.”

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It’s unclear how Herring got ahold of the prescription drug, though NPR reported that health officials at the Texas Mexico border were seeing an increase in women going to unregulated pharmacies in Mexico to get abortion pills in the aftermath of the state’s anti-abortion law.

Court records show that Herring was released from jail on a $30,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 2. Neither Herring, nor his attorney, have commented on the situation.

A spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. Herring was also indicted on an assault charge of attempting to an induce an abortion.

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If convicted, Herring faces a sentence of two to 10 years behind bars and a fine of up to $10,000.

He is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 2.

Nicholas Norris, an attorney for Herring, declined to immediately comment Thursday.

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