An Alabama woman was shot in the stomach last year and lost her pregnancy. Now, the shooter has gone free, and the woman has been indicted for manslaughter in the fetus’ death because police say she was at fault for initiating the shooting.
Marshae Jones, 27, was charged Wednesday and taken into custody on a $50,000 bond, Jefferson County authorities said.
Jones was five months pregnant when 23-year-old Ebony Jemison shot her in the stomach during a December 2018 altercation regarding the fetus’ father, Alabama news station WBMA-LD reported at the time.
Police initially charged Jemison with manslaughter, but the charge was dismissed after the grand jury failed to indict her, according to AL.com and WBMA-LD.
“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,’’ Pleasant Grove, Alabama, police Lt. Danny Reid said at the time of the shooting. “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby.”
Reports of the indictment sparked outrage online, with actress Patricia Arquette calling Alabama laws “unjust” and NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue tweeting that ”this is what 2019 looks like for a pregnant woman of color without means in a red state.”
Alabama American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Randall Marshall said in a written statement to USA TODAY that the indictment signals another example of how Alabama is criminalizing pregnancy.
”Indeed, Alabama is one of the most dangerous places in the country for a Black woman trying to carry her pregnancy to term, and this prosecution is just one more attack on the basic human rights and dignity of Black women in our state,” he said. “If this prosecution is allowed to proceed, it will not be much of a step to come up with a way to prosecute a woman who has an abortion.”
Alabama lawmakers passed a bill in May banning nearly all abortions in the state at any stage of the pregnancy unless the mother’s physical or mental health is in jeopardy.
Amanda Reyes, executive director of the Yellowhammer Fund, a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds, which helps women access abortion services, said in a statement Wednesday that the fund will assist Jones to ensure that she gets justice for the multiple attacks that she has endured.
“Today, Marshae Jones is being charged with manslaughter for being pregnant and getting shot while engaging in an altercation with a person who had a gun. Tomorrow, it will be another black woman, maybe for having a drink while pregnant. And after that, another, for not obtaining adequate prenatal care,” Reyes said in a statement to AL.com.
Alabama is among 38 states that have fetal homicide laws recognizing the fetus as a victim in cases of violence against a pregnant woman.
Alabama Criminal Code defines manslaughter as recklessly causing the death of another person, defining person to include ”an unborn child in utero at any stage of development, regardless of viability.”
Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, told the Associated Press that women across the country have been prosecuted for manslaughter or murder for having an abortion or experiencing a miscarriage after exposing their fetuses to controlled substances.
Read more at usatoday.com