Update, July 3rd, 3:30 p.m. EDT: According to The New York Times, prosecutors in Alabama have announced that they are dropping the manslaughter charge against Marshae Jones.
Alabama woman Marshae Jones was shot in the stomach in 2018, when she was five months pregnant. The fetus didn’t survive. On Wednesday, June 27th, Jones was indicted for manslaughter for the unborn child’s death.
The alleged shooter, Ebony Jemison, was initially charged with manslaughter, but the charge was dismissed after a grand jury declined to indict her. Local law enforcement is holding Jones responsible for the unborn baby’s death because she allegedly initiated a fight with Jemison.
Reid placed the blame for the death firmly in Jones’ hands, telling AL.com at the time of the shooting, “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. That child is dependent on its mother to try to keep it from harm, and she shouldn’t seek out unnecessary physical altercations.”
The news came weeks after Alabama passed strict new abortion laws, banning nearly all abortions and raising questions on whether women who miscarried would be prosecuted, as a medical abortion and miscarriage can be similar. Today, one week after the indictment, and after an outcry from activist groups across the country, prosecutors have dropped manslaughter charges against Jones.
Activist groups said they saw the Jones indictment as the first step on a dangerous path.
“Instead of treating Marshae Jones with compassion after being shot and losing her pregnancy, Alabama has decided to further her trauma and the injustice she has already experienced by charging her, not the person who shot her, with a crime,” Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director of feminist group UltraViolet, said in a statement.
Pregnant black women already face higher risks than their white mother-to-be counterparts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-American (and Native American) women have three to four times the risk of dying a pregnancy-related death than white women. Many experts agree that a major reason black women are dying from pregnancy complications is because their health concerns are taken less seriously by healthcare professionals.
“This is the toxic collision of the everyday racism, sexism, and violence experienced by black women and the terrifying end point of the dangerous anti-choice laws spreading across the country, including in Alabama, that devalue, dehumanize, and criminalize women,” Thomas said. “This is part of a larger pattern of how our criminal justice system permits and furthers violence and abuse against black women, and it is unacceptable.”
This story was originally published on June 27th, 2019.