MONTGOMERY, AL — A pregnant Alabama woman who was shot in the stomach during an altercation was charged with manslaughter for the death of her unborn child, while the woman accused of shooting her was set free.
Marshae Jones, 28, was five months pregnant when 23-year-old Ebony Jemison allegedly shot her in the stomach during an altercation about Jones’ baby’s father, the Associated Press reported.
The incident happened in December and, at the time, Jemison was charged with manslaughter; however, she was not indicted after investigators said that Jones was the one who started the fight and Jemison was acting in self-defense.
On Wednesday, Jones was indicted by a grand jury for the death of her unborn child.
According to AL.com , Lt. Danny Reid of the Pleasant Grove Police Department said the only true victim in the altercation was the unborn baby and that Jones initiating the fight ultimately caused the death of her unborn child.
Advocates for women’s rights expressed outrage.
Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, said women across the country have been prosecuted for manslaughter or murder for having an abortion or experiencing a miscarriage. She said Alabama currently leads the nation in charging women for crimes related to their pregnancies. She said hundreds have been prosecuted for running afoul of the state’s “chemical endangerment of a child” statute by exposing their embryo or fetus to controlled substances.
But this is the first time she’s heard of a pregnant woman being charged after getting shot.
“This takes us to a new level of inhumanity and illegality towards pregnant women,” Paltrow said. “I can’t think of any other circumstance where a person who themselves is a victim of a crime is treated as the criminal.”
Jones’ arrest also drew criticism from the Yellowhammer Fund, which raises money to help women have access to abortions.
“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,” said Amanda Reyes, the group’s director.