A woman in Birmingham, Ala. — the biggest city in the state that in May passed the strictest abortion law since Roe v. Wade — was indicted in the shooting death of her own unborn child.
On June 26, a Jefferson County grand jury indicted Marshae Jones, 28, for manslaughter based on her alleged role in starting a fight last year, which led to gunfire, according to ABC 33/40.
On Dec. 4, 2018, Jones was five months pregnant when she was shot in the stomach during a dispute she started with another woman outside a Dollar General store in Pleasant Grove, west of Birmingham, according to authorities. Her unborn fetus didn’t survive.
According to AL.com, the dispute involved the baby’s father.
According to Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid, the other woman, Ebony Jemison, defended herself in the fight.
“It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight, which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby,” Lt. Reid said, according to AL.com. “Let’s not lose sight that the unborn baby is the victim here. She had no choice in being brought unnecessarily into a fight where she was relying on her mother for protection.”
Police initially charged Jemison, 23, with manslaughter, according to AL.com, but the charge against Jemison was dismissed after the grand jury failed to indict her.
Authorities said that Jones was culpable “because she started the right that led to the shooting, and failed to remove herself from harm’s way,” according to the New York Times.
“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,” District Attorney Lynneice Washington with Bessemer Division, which covers the western portion of Jefferson County, told CNN. “We will announce our decision only after all due diligence has been performed.”
According to the New York Times, Jones was released from jail on June 27, after posting $50,000 bond, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
The case comes amid a heated national over abortion. In May, Republican Alabama governor, Kay Ivey, signed a bill banning and criminalizing abortion at every stage of pregnancy, challenging women’s constitutional rights to have an abortion as made legal. It is unclear if and when the abortion bill will go into effect.
Alabama is among 38 states with fetal homicide laws recognizing the fetus as a victim in cases of violence against a pregnant woman.