Marshae Jones, a 27-year-old mother who lost her unborn child after she was shot multiple times in the stomach during a fight she started in 2018, was arrested and charged with manslaughter on Wednesday, sparking national outrage among abortion advocates.
An AL.com report said police had initially charged another woman, 23-year-old Ebony Jemison with manslaughter for the unborn baby girl’s death, but the charge was dismissed after a grand jury failed to indict her. Jones was five months pregnant at the time.
Police say the fight between Jones, who is from Birmingham, and Jemison stemmed from a dispute over the unborn baby’s father. Jones was shot around noon on Dec. 4, 2018, outside a Dollar General store in Pleasant Grove.
“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,’’ Pleasant Grove Police Lt. Danny Reid noted at the time of the shooting. “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby.”
Jones’ actions forced Jemison to defend herself, officials said.
"Let’s not lose sight that the unborn baby is the victim here,’’ Reid added. “She had no choice in being brought unnecessarily into a fight where she was relying on her mother for protection."
Jones was transferred to the Jefferson County Jail where she was held on $50,000 bond.
Her indictment has sparked national outrage among abortion rights advocates.
“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,’’ Amanda Reyes, executive director of The Yellowhammer Fund, a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds, said in a statement cited by AL.com.
“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,” she added.
The advocacy group added in a statement on Thursday morning that they would be assisting Jones with legal representation.
“Marshae Jones was indicted for manslaughter for losing a pregnancy after being shot in the abdomen FIVE times. Her shooter remains free. As a reproductive justice fund, 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 statement said.
NARAL Pro-Choice President Ilyse Hogue echoed the sentiments of injustice Wednesday in a statement on Twitter.
“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,” she said.
“A pregnant woman was shot in the stomach during a fight. The shooting caused her pregnancy to end. She has been indicted for manslaughter. This is how people — especially women of color — are already being punished and having their pregnancies criminalized,” the National Abortion Federation tweeted.
Actor and activist Patricia Arquette also weighed in along with many others.
“Marshae Jones was pregnant when she was shot in the stomach while in a fight with another woman over the baby’s father. The fetus died. Now SHE is being charged with Murder. These anti-abortion laws are unjust. She must not be charged,” Arquette wrote.