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Prosecutors Now Say They Might Not Go After Woman Who Miscarried After She Was Shot

In the first state to enshrine fetal personhood in its constitution, the woman is facing manslaughter charges

by Emma Ockerman
Jun 28 2019, 2:23pm

Alabama prosecutors are indicating they might not pursue a criminal case against the Alabama woman who was charged with manslaughter after she lost her pregnancy from a shooting, according to AL.com.

The incident happened in December, but the woman was arrested Wednesday, sparking massive outrage and bringing national attention to the case.

“While the grand jury has had its say, our office is in the process of evaluating this case and has not yet made a determination about whether to prosecute it as a manslaughter case, reduce it to a lesser charge or not to prosecute it,’’ Cutoff Chief Assistant District Attorney Valerie Hicks Powe said in a statement to AL.com Thursday evening.

Marshae Jones, the 27-year-old arrested on a manslaughter charge, was five months pregnant when she allegedly got into an altercation with another woman outside of a Dollar General and was shot in the stomach. However, the charges against her shooter, Ebony Jemison, were dismissed by a grand jury on claims of self-defense. Cops blamed Jones, whom they allege instigated the fight that led her to lose the pregnancy.

“When a 5-month pregnant woman initiates a fight and attacks another person, I believe some responsibility lies with her as to any injury to her unborn child,’’ Pleasant Grove Police Lt. Danny Reid told AL.com in December.

It’s not clear whether the logic behind the manslaughter charge will fly with Cutoff District Attorney's Office, which is led by the first black, female district attorney in the state, Lynneice Washington. In the past, Washington has supported progressive criminal justice policies like ending arrests over small amounts of marijuana.

Washington is currently out of the country, according to AL.com, so Powe spoke about the case to the press, saying she felt sympathetic toward Jones, who is currently out of jail on bail.

“The fact that this tragedy was 100 percent avoidable makes this case even more disheartening,” Powe said, according to AL.com.

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Jemison — Jones’ attacker — said she felt the harsh charges were unfair, although she still thought Jones carried some blame. Jones’ family told AL.com the fight was over the baby’s father, and also said the charges seemed unfair.

“I feel that if the baby had to be counted as a person, I don’t feel [the grand jury] is wrong for indicting her because you initially put your child in danger,” Jemison told BuzzFeed News. “But me being a person, I don’t feel as if it’s fair for her to sit in jail after dealing with her losing her child situation.”

Jones’ case has garnered national attention since reproductive health advocates sounded the alarm over the manslaughter charges, especially since Alabama hasn’t been shy about passing strict abortion laws and granting more rights to fetuses. In November, the state was the first to enshrine “fetal personhood” — legal protections for an unborn child — in its constitution.

“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,” Amanda Reyes, executive director of the reproductive health nonprofit Yellowhammer Fund, said in a statement to AL.com.

Cover: A woman in her eighth month of pregnancy poses during a press conference for the Babywelt baby trade fair in Dresden, Germany, 31 March 2016. (Sebastian Kahnert/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)