Alabama Will Prosecute Woman for Death of Her Unborn Baby — but Not the Person Who Shot Her

marshae-jones
JEFFERSON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

An Alabama woman has been indicted in the death of her unborn baby who was killed due to a shooting that arose from a dispute the baby’s mother initiated.

Marshae Jones, 27, of Birmingham, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury on a charge of manslaughter and taken into custody Wednesday, reported al.com.

According to the news report:

Though Jones didn’t fire the shots that killed her unborn baby girl, authorities say she initiated the dispute that led to the gunfire. Police initially charged 23-year-old Ebony Jemison with manslaughter, but the charge against Jemison was dismissed after the grand jury failed to indict her.

The shooting occurred in early December 2018, when Jones was five months pregnant. When police arrived at the scene of the shooting, they discovered Jones, who had been shot in the stomach, had been taken to a Fairfield convenience store.

Paramedics ultimately had Jones transferred to University of Alabama Hospital. Her unborn baby did not survive the shooting.

“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,’’ said Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid, according to the news report. “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby.”

Reid said the fight between Jones and Jemison was over the baby’s father. An investigation revealed Jones initiated and continued to exacerbate the fight. Jemison defended herself and ultimately shot Jones in the stomach, causing the unborn baby’s death.

“Let’s not lose sight that the unborn baby is the victim here,’’ Reid said. “She had no choice in being brought unnecessarily into a fight where she was relying on her mother for protection.”

He added the unborn baby was “dependent on its mother to try to keep it from harm, and she shouldn’t seek out unnecessary physical altercations.”

Jones will be held on $50,000 bond.

Abortion rights organization the Yellowhammer Fund, a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds, condemned Jones’ indictment.

“The state of Alabama has proven yet again that the moment a person becomes pregnant their sole responsibility is to produce a live, healthy baby and that it considers any action a pregnant person takes that might impede in that live birth to be a criminal act,’’ said Amanda Reyes, executive director of the group, in a statement, adding:

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.

We commit ourselves to making sure that Marshae is released from jail on bond, assisting with her legal representation, and working to ensure that she gets justice for the multiple attacks that she has endured.

In May, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed the Human Life Protection Act into law, one that makes most abortions in the state illegal. The law is scheduled to take effect in November, but Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have jointly filed a lawsuit that claims the abortion law is unconstitutional.

However, State Rep. Terri Collins, who introduced the legislation, said the lawsuit challenging the new law is all part of her plan to ultimately have the case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We expected them to file the motion,” Collins said, reported WHNT News. “They probably did it quicker than we thought they would, but that is fine, that’s a part of that expectation, and that’s what actually moves it along in that court process.”

The Alabama law prohibiting abortion provides for an exception only in the case of the mother’s serious health risk. It defines an unborn child as a human being, in utero, at any stage of fetal development.

“That’s the language Roe v. Wade used, in utero, which meant already a person, already pregnant, and then they said that child was not a person,” Collins said. “So, we used their language in our bill and so we feel like our bill is a little bit better vehicle to get them to actually review their decision.”

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