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Alabama Woman Shot Last Year Indicted Over Resulting Miscarriage

Alabama Woman Shot Last Year Indicted Over Resulting Miscarriage

A 27-year-old Birmingham, Alabama, woman was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday for effectively being shot in the stomach during a fight she was involved in, which resulted in the loss of her fetus.

Photo by Mark Makela/Corbis via Getty Images

Marshae Jones was arrested on Wednesday for actions prosecutors say led to the the death of her unborn child last December, AL.com reported.

Jones approached Ebony Johnson, 23, on December 4, 2018, in Pleasant Grove, Alabama, and engaged her in a fight over the father of Jones’s unborn child. Police claimed Jones kept pressing the fight on, which resulted in Johnson shooting her in the stomach.

Johnson was not indicted with any manslaughter charges.

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

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

Women’s rights groups blasted the decision to charge Jones with manslaughter, critical of the idea that any action of the mother should result in criminal charges like these.

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“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, executive director of the Yellowhammer Fund, said, per reporting from The Week. “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.”

Laws restricting women’s reproductive rights in the state of Alabama and elsewhere have made headlines across the nation and the world. Earlier this year, a bill effectively banning abortion outright in the state, except for cases where the mother’s health is in danger, was signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey.

The law doesn’t penalize women, but rather doctors, for any abortion procedure that occurs. It is technically unenforceable at the moment, but some are hopeful that a legal challenge can result in overturning the national protections for abortion that are afforded in the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.

The new law doesn’t technically address instances like Jones’s — it deals with abortions, not miscarriages. Yet some worry that women could be unduly harassed over the loss of a fetus in the future if the law is allowed to be enforced.

“You don’t want a woman to be forced to prove how she lost her baby,” Carol Sanger, a professor at Columbia Law School, said to the Washington Post in May.

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