Charges against a 27-year-old pregnant Marshae Jones who was arrested for manslaughter after being shot in the stomach following an altercation have been dropped.
Marshae Jones was accused of assaulting a coworker who drew a gun and fired it, wounding her in the stomach and killing her five-month-old foetus after which she was arrested. In May Alabama Senate passed a controversial bill that makes procuring an abortion a felony in almost every circumstance including rape and incest challenging the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the US and under the Alabama law, a foetus is considered to have the same rights as a child who has already been born.
The actions of both women were presented to the grand jury, using evidence from the police. Prosecutors were on hand at the time to answer the grand jury’s legal questions who signed the indictment saying in a brief news conference that she had weighed the evidence and decided to dismiss the case.
“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. No further legal action will be taken against Ms Jones in this matter,” said District Attorney Lynneice Washington a grand jury in Jefferson County.
Being the first black female district attorney in Alabama’s history, Washington received a backlash for dropping the charges centred on the notion that Ms Jones, a working-class black woman, was being treated in a way that no wealthy white woman would have been.
Despite the angry national reaction, many in Alabama defended the grand jury’s decision, saying that they agreed with the laws protecting the unborn and that women who endanger them should face legal consequences, but the prosecutor’s decision was welcomed by reproductive rights advocates.
“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. That child is dependent on its mother to try to keep it from harm, and she shouldn’t seek out unnecessary physical altercations,” said a lieutenant in the Police Department.