Pregnant Woman Is Shot, Then Indicted in Fetus' Death

Alabama police say Marshae Jones initiated fight that led to unborn baby's death
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2019 6:24 AM CDT
Updated Jun 27, 2019 12:15 PM CDT
Pregnant Woman Is Shot, Then Indicted in Fetus' Death
Marshae Jones   (Pleasant Grove (Ala.) Police Department)

A shooting in Alabama has led to manslaughter charges, but little else about the case is typical. The person charged is 27-year-old Marshae Jones of Birmingham, and the victim was her 5-month-old fetus, reports Jones is not accused of firing the shots that killed her unborn girl, but police say she started the fight that culminated in the shooting. The details:

  • The shooting: By the police account, Jones went after Ebony Jemison, 23, outside a Dollar General store in Pleasant Grove, and Jemison eventually fired a gun to protect herself. A bullet struck Jones in the stomach, and her fetus didn't survive. Police initially charged Jemison in the December 2018 shooting, but those charges were dropped when a grand jury failed to indict her.
  • Police rationale: "Let’s not lose sight that the unborn baby is the victim here,’’ says police Lt. Danny Reid. The fetus was "dependent on its mother to try to keep it from harm, and she shouldn’t seek out unnecessary physical altercations."

  • The fight: Authorities say the fight was over a man, the father of Jones' unborn baby. Jones was taken into custody Wednesday after being indicted on manslaughter charges. A petition is calling for the charges to be dropped.
  • Abortion flashpoint: As the Washington Post notes, the case immediately became a flashpoint on abortion, with critics saying that Alabama's strict laws create an atmosphere in which cases like Jones' are carried too far in the name of protecting a fetus. "This is what 2019 looks like for a pregnant woman of color ... in a red state," tweeted Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
  • Critic's quote: “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,’’ says Amanda Reyes of the Yellowhammer Fund, an abortion-rights advocacy group. Today, it's Jones. "Tomorrow, it will be another black woman, maybe for having a drink while pregnant."
  • The law: A 2006 Alabama homicide law defines "person" as "a human being, including an unborn child in utero at any stage of development, regardless of viability," per a post at ABC Australia. (The case already is getting international attention.) This law was frequently cited in Alabama's recent decision to outlaw abortions in virtually every instance.
(More Alabama stories.)

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