Alabama Woman Who Lost Pregnancy After Being Shot Is Now Charged In Fetus's Death

by Christina Marfice
Bill Oxford/Getty

An Alabama woman is being charged in her unborn baby’s death — after someone else shot her in the stomach

In case you’re — like me — having a hard time comprehending that headline, let’s set the scene. Marshae Jones, a 27-year-old woman from Birmingham, Alabama, was five months pregnant last year. She got into an argument with 23-year-old Ebony Jemison. Jemison had a gun. Jemison shot Jones in the stomach. Jones’ unborn baby died. Jemison was arrested and charged with manslaughter, but a grand jury didn’t indict her, so the charges were dismissed. On Wednesday, Jones was taken into custody and charged with manslaughter. Police and prosecutors say she started the fight, so it’s her fault her own unborn baby was killed.

A woman was shot, her shooter’s charges were dismissed, and now the victim of the shooting, who also lost her child in that shooting, is being told this was her fault, and faces charges for the death of her unborn baby.

Jones was shot. She could have died. But police say that’s beside the point, and that if she cared about her unborn fetus like she should have, she wouldn’t have been in a situation where she could have been shot. Literally, that’s what they say. This is a real quote from a police lieutenant in Alabama.

“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,” Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid told reporters. “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby.”

Let us reiterate. Jones got shot. By another woman. Someone pulled out a gun and shot her. And police and prosecutors are trying to make a legal case that that was Jones’ fault. What kind of sick, victim-blaming, dystopian hellscape is Alabama?

Oh, and Reid didn’t stop there. Here’s another thing he said: “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.”

This police officer is more concerned about an unviable fetus than an actual, living, breathing, adult woman who got shot. Shooting people, as far as we know, is against the law. But according to this cop, whose literal job is to enforce laws and protect people, that’s not the point here. What?

Jones was shot. Yet she will see no justice for the bodily harm she endured because in this political landscape where the personhood of a fetus is being taken to this extreme, the personhood of the mother no longer matters. This is literally The Handmaid’s Tale. Jones is nothing but an incubator in this situation. The fact that someone attacked her in a potentially deadly way is beside the point — she should have been thinking of the fetus and staying out of harm’s way.

The question now is where does this stop? Will we prosecute pregnant women who get in car accidents? Who play sports? Who interact with their pets? Will we prosecute pregnant women who dare to exist outside a room with padded walls, because the world is literally full of dangers that they have a responsibility to avoid to protect their fetuses? Should we prosecute the lawmakers who allowed Jemison to have a gun, thus creating an unsafe world for pregnant women to inhabit? I mean, obviously not, because following the logic of this case, we would just prosecute the women who dared live in a world where their fetuses might meet some sort of harm.

Activist groups are already aiding Jones, and we have to believe they’ll be able to help her get the legal representation she deserves to escape this mess. But there will be more women after her. Our rights are under attack — our very right to be recognized as a human being is under attack. If you haven’t started fighting back, what are you waiting for?