An Alabama grand jury charged Marshae Jones, 27, with manslaughter after another woman shot her during a dispute outside a retail store in Pleasant Grove, AL, in December, causing Jones to lose her 5-month-old fetus. On Wednesday, she was arrested and taken into custody, AL.com reported.
The fight was allegedly over the father of Jones’ unborn child, and police originally charged the shooter, Ebony Jemison, 23, for manslaughter. But the case against Jemison was dropped after the grand jury failed to indict her.
Jones’ indictment has sparked an outcry among reproductive rights activists against the treatment of women, particularly women of color, in a state that has very recently passed a law criminalizing abortion at any stage, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
“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,’’ Amanda Reyes, president and executive director of The Yellowhammer Fund, an organization that helps provide women in Alabama with access and funding for abortion services, said in a statement provided to Refinery29.
“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,” Reyes added. “Tomorrow, it will be another Black woman, maybe for having a drink while pregnant. And after that, another, for not obtaining adequate prenatal care.”
Officials had already begun blaming Jones for the death of her unborn child 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,” Pleasant Grove police lieutenant Danny Reid said. “The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby.’’
Reid said the investigation also showed that Jemison was defending herself by shooting Jones. It doesn’t appear that Jones herself had a weapon. However, Reid argued that the fetus was “dependent on its mother to try and keep it from harm,” and that Jones “shouldn’t seek out unnecessary physical altercations.”
Reyes said Yellowhammer is committed to getting justice for Jones, as well as making sure she is released from jail on bond, assisted with legal representation.
Jones is being held on $50,000 bond at Jefferson County Jail.
"This is what 2019 looks like for a pregnant woman of color without means in a red state," tweeted Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “This is now.”
Today, Marshae Jones was indicted for homicide when someone shot her in the stomach while she was pregnant, ending her pregnancy. They said she "started it." The shooter went free. This what 2019 looks like for a pregnant woman of color without means in a red state. This is now.— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) June 27, 2019