An Alabama woman lost her unborn fetus after being shot during a physical altercation with another woman, and she — not the shooter — has been arrested for manslaughter. The incident happened around noon on December 4, 2018, when 27-year-old Marshae Jones, who was five months pregnant at the time, initiated a dispute with 23-year-old Ebony Jemison over the unborn baby’s father.
The dispute led to Jemison shooting Jones in the stomach, and the fetus did not survive the injury. Although initially Jemison was charged with manslaughter, that charge was later dismissed when a grand jury failed to indict her.
Instead, Jones was arrested on Wednesday and taken before a Jefferson County grand jury that indicted her on a manslaughter charge. Authorities are arguing that since Jones initiated the altercation, that she, the victim of the shooting, is responsible for the death of her fetus and not the woman who shot her — as Jemison claimed that she had been acting in self-defense.
“It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby,” said Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid at the time of the shooting.
“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.”
The 5-month fetus was “dependent on its mother to try to keep it from harm, and she shouldn’t seek out unnecessary physical altercations,” Reid added.
The Yellowhammer Fund, an organization that helps women access abortion services in Alabama, which gained national attention following the passage of the state’s new abortion law, released a statement on Wednesday night expressing outrage over the case.
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,’’ Executive Director Amanda Reyes said in the statement.“
“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.
By Thursday, Jones’ case had also begun to draw national attention as people began expressing outrage over the indictment. It appears that Alabama’s abortion law is only the beginning of the trouble for women in the state, particularly those impoverished or of color.
Others are pointing out that this is a prime example of the nefarious dangers of personhood laws:
At the very least, the attention being drawn can only serve to help Jones, as her case will likely be viewed by the country under a microscope in the days and weeks to come.