Shooting victim charged with killing own unborn baby

Staff Writer | Jul 02, 2019
On Wednesday, 26 June 2019 Marshae Jones was charged with the manslaughter of her own foetus.

In December 2018, 28-year-old Marshae Jones was shot in the stomach in a parking lot in Birmingham, Alabama. Jones, who was five months pregnant, was shot by Ebony Jemison during a fight over the father of her unborn child. The foetus died.

Jemison, who fired the shot, was charged with the manslaughter (culpable homicide) of the foetus, but the charge was dismissed.

However, on Wednesday 26 June Jones was charged with the manslaughter of her own foetus. She was released from jail the following day after posting a $50 000 bond. Jones was considered to be culpable as she initiated the fight that led to the shooting, putting herself and her unborn baby in harm’s way.

The local police department commented: “When a five-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… The only true victim in this was the unborn baby.”

Alabama is one of 38 states that have foetal homicide laws recognising the foetus as a victim in cases of violence against a pregnant woman, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The law recognises a foetus at any stage of development as a ‘person’ for the purposes of criminal homicide or assaults. 

The Yellowhammer Fund, which provides funding for abortion access in Alabama, tweeted Jones' story with the caption “Losing a pregnancy is not a crime.”

 “This is how people — especially women of colour — are already being punished and having their pregnancies criminalised,” said the National Abortion Federation in a statement

In May 2019 Alabama banned abortion throughout pregnancy and criminalised doctors providing the procedure. This is the most stringent anti-abortion measure in America. Alabama’s ban is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the seminal federal judgment made in 1973 that recognised a woman’s constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy.


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