A Black woman from Alabama was charged with manslaughter in the death of her unborn child after she was shot in the stomach. The shooting occurred in December 2018 during a dispute with another woman.
Marshae Doricia Jones, a 28-year-old from Birmingham, was five months pregnant when she was shot during a dispute with 23-year-old Ebony Jemison. Jones was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury on a manslaughter charge and taken into custody on June 26.
Jail records reveal Jones was booked into the Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham, Alabama on a $50,000 bond.
The fatal shooting happened on December 4, 2018, outside of a Dollar General store in Birmingham, AL.com reported. Officers arrived on the scene to find that Jones had been picked up and driven to a Fairfield convenience store, where she was found by paramedics. She was transported to UAB Hospital, but her fetus did not survive.
“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,” Pleasant Grove Police Lieutenant Danny Reid said at the time, according to AL.com. “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby.”
Police said an investigation determined that Jones had initiated a fight with Jemison over the fetus’ father, prompting Jemison to defend herself with a gun. Jemison was initially charged with manslaughter but her charge was dismissed when a grand jury failed to indict her.
Jones’ indictment and prosecution falls under the jurisdiction of the Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney’s Office.
“Let’s not lose sight that the unborn baby is the victim here,” Reid continued. “She had no choice in being brought unnecessarily into a fight where she was relying on her mother for protection.”
Women’s rights activists and pro-choice groups quickly rallied around Jones and denounced the grand jury’s indictment.
“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 [is] what 2019 looks like for a pregnant woman of color without means in a red state. This is now,” tweeted Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The Yellowhammer Fund, a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds, took aim at Alabama after Jones was indicted. In May, Governor Kay Ivey (R) signed a bill that banned abortion at every stage of pregnancy and criminalized doctors who provide abortion care. Alabama, one of 38 states with fetal homicide laws, recognizes a fetus as a victim in cases of crimes against pregnant women, The New York Times reported.
“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,” Yellowhammer Fund Executive Director Amanda Reyes said in a statement to AL.com.
Reyes continued: “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.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alabama called the indictment an attack on the basic human rights of Black women.
“This is another example of how Alabama is moving to criminalize pregnancy. Indeed, Alabama is one of the most dangerous places in the country for a Black woman trying to carry her pregnancy to term, and this prosecution is just one more attack on the basic human rights and dignity of Black women in our state,” ACLU of Alabama Executive Director Randall Marshall said in a statement.
“If this prosecution is allowed to proceed, it will not be much of a step to come up with a way to prosecute a woman who has an abortion,” Marshall added.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.