Charges Have Been Dropped Against A Woman In Alabama Who Was Indicted With Manslaughter For Her Own Miscarriage

The events of last week left us wondering what kind of a world we live in when miscarriage carries a manslaughter charge...


by Sofia Tindall |

A woman who was charged with manslaughter in Alabama after miscarrying when she was shot in the stomach will not be prosecuted, it was announced on Wednesday by the Alabama district Attorney.

With everything feeling fairly medieval when it comes to women's rights in America at the moment, news of Marshae Jones prosecution delivered another blow when it was announced on Thursday last week: attracting mass attention nationally and online. However Jefferson County District Attorney Lynneice Washington said in a press conference 'After viewing the facts of this case and the applicable state law I have determined that it is not in the best interest of justice to pursue prosecution of Ms. Jones on the manslaughter charge for which she was indicted by the grand jury, therefore, I am dismissing this case and no further legal action will be taken against Ms. Jones in this matter.'

So what happened in this - fairly extraordinary and troubling - case? The jury determined that Jones, 27, had endangered the life of her unborn baby by initiating a fight with Ebony Jemison, 23, who it was said had fired the gunshot in self-defence. Through some particularly concerning legal gymnastics (seriously, it must have taken hard work to reach this conclusion) the court found Jones to be responsible for the death of her baby because she 'initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death'. Leiutenant Danny Reid said 'The investigation showed the only true victim in this was the unborn baby.'

Yes, just to confirm, this court blamed a woman for miscarrying after being literally shot in the stomach, claiming that she should be held responsible for the whole ordeal. What's next? Being responsible for being hit be a car while crossing the road? The logic of the Alabama legal powers, or lack thereof, left everyone who scrolled through the news last Thursday feeling completely baffled.

Though perhaps it's not surprising in the light of the fact that Alabama is one of the states to have now signed the 'heartbeat' bill, effectively giving an unborn foetus more rights than the mother. The bill curtails the timeframe in which a woman can legally seek abortion to just six weeks. Having an abortion after this timeframe can carry the same sentence as first degree murder, while women deemed to have caused their miscarriage through 'irresponsible behaviour' (as has determined to be the case in this instance) can face second degree murder or manslaughter charges.

The heartbeat bill isn't just an inert piece of legislation,it's been decried as one of the worst attacks on women's rights in recent history – and with good reason. What it says about the attitude of states which have passed it is that each has a similar level of disregard for women's autonomy over their own bodies. It is an attempt to control and restrict women's rights, and it really makes for a terrifying reality.

While it's a relief to see this unjust persecution dropped in this instance, who knows what the rest of 2019 will bring for women living in the states where having a miscarriage can now make you a murderer in the eyes of the law?

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Multiple states in America are signing bills to render abortion illegal at six weeks
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Multiple states in America are signing bills to render abortion illegal at six weeks

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