Marshae Jones is a 27-year-old woman who was shot while 5 months pregnant, which caused her to lose her unborn child. She was then charged with manslaughter.
She was charged with manslaughter of her own fetus even though she was shot by another woman.
The woman who shot Jones, Ebony Jemison, claimed it was self-defense because she did not start the argument, and had her charges of manslaughter dropped.
The issue is that Alabama is one of many states that consider fetuses can be victims of homicide or assault. This claim of self-defense put Jones at fault for being shot. Which led to her being charged with manslaughter and of her child because of her failure to protect. An officer at Pleasant Grove Police Department stated "dependent on its mother to try to keep it from harm, and she shouldn't seek out unnecessary physical altercations," Yet, she most likely did not anticipate being shot while she was arguing about who the child's father was. This was enough for the police to say she deserved to be shot.
A member of the Pleasant Grove Police Department stated "The only true victim in this was the unborn baby," and "she had no choice in being brought unnecessarily into a fight where she was relying on her mother for protection." which makes it clear he had no sympathy to the mother, who was the one assaulted and had to face the loss unborn child. He then proceeded to claim it was the mother's fault by stating "It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby." This a problematic statement. Just because you get into an argument does not mean that the other person involved has the right to shoot you. Also, given that they were said to be arguing about who the father of the unborn child is I think it is reasonable that the mother, Jones, would be very upset about the accusations being made. Which brings up another point, why would she bring this issue up herself and start a fight about it? It seems more likely to me that the other women must have made a comment that upset Jones.
The Yellowhammer Fund is one of the many women's rights activist groups that were infuriated by this and decided to try and help Jones make bail, which was set at $50,000. The Executive Director of the organization, Amanda Reyes stated, "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.''
As previously mentioned Alabama is one of the 38 states that have laws that states that fetuses can be victims of assault or homicide in addition to the pregnant women who were harmed. Yet, in this case, they did not consider the mother to be a victim. Which seems to be a question in this case.
It seems that Alabama may have taken their recent abortion laws to a level that we may not have anticipated. In May a bill was signed that bans all abortions and criminalizing the procedure. These laws are the strictest in the country.
Did Alabama count this incident as an abortion? Many think that is the basis for these charges. In addition, many people think Jones is facing these harsher punishments because she is a woman of color. "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,'' Reyes stated.
This case also sets an unsettling precedent for future cases. If a woman is driving and gets into an accident, that causes no harm to others yet causes her to miscarry, will she be charged with manslaughter? Even if the accident was not her fault. She was driving while pregnant knowing that other people could cause an accident so does that put her at fault? It should not. Also, when you argue with someone should you now expect to be shot. Should your verbal altercations be justification for being violently and possibly fatally attacked?
It is important that we raise awareness about this case to help get Jones released. Attention also needs to be brought to this issue because if there is one, there are probably other similar cases. She lost her child and her rights, and the woman who prevented her beloved baby girl from being born got to walk free. It is time that Marshae Jones be freed of these charges.