A pregnant woman in Alabama has been charged with manslaughter after she was shot in the stomach and her unborn baby was killed.
Marshae Jones, 27, was five months pregnant in December 2018 when she was shot after getting into a fight with 23-year-old Ebony Jemison outside a Dollar General store in Pleasant Grove.
Ms Jemison shot Jones in the stomach, was taken to hospital and survived, but her unborn daughter died.
Police blamed Jones for initiating the argument, which they said was about the father of the baby.
She was charged with manslaughter under Alabama’s foetal homicide laws and the tragic story took another twist on Wednesday when it was revealed a grand jury had indicted her. If convicted, Jones faces up to 20 years in jail.
“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,’’ Pleasant Grove police Lieutenant Danny Reid told local website Al.com in December.
“It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby.”
Jones “intentionally” caused the death of Unborn Baby Jones, the indictment states. She did so by “initiating a fight knowing she was five months pregnant”.
Ms Jemison was also initially charged with manslaughter. The grand jury declined to indict her and the charge was dropped.
An Alabama woman who was shot in the stomach while pregnant has been indicted and charged with manslaughter for the death of the fetus.
— AL.com (@aldotcom) June 27, 2019
Pleasant Grove police said Jones would be transferred to jail and held on a $50,000 bond.
Alabama is one of 38 US states with foetal homicide laws, and the case has sparked outrage among women’s rights groups.
The Yellowhammer Fund, which campaigns for women’s reproductive rights in Alabama, said it would work to ensure Jones was released from jail and got “justice for the multiple attacks that she has endured.
“The state of Alabama has proven yet again that the moment a person becomes pregnant their sole responsibility is to produce a live, healthy baby and that it considers any action a pregnant person takes that might impede in that live birth to be a criminal act,’’ executive director Amanda Reyes said in the statement.
“Today, Marshae Jones is being charged with manslaughter for being pregnant and getting shot while engaging in an altercation with a person who had a gun.
“Tomorrow, it will be another black woman, maybe for having a drink while pregnant. And after that, another, for not obtaining adequate prenatal care.”
Lynn Paltrow, executive director of America’s National Advocates for Pregnant Women, told Associated Press that it was the first time she had heard of a pregnant woman being charged after getting shot.
“This takes us to a new level of inhumanity and illegality towards pregnant women,” Ms Paltrow told AP.
“I can’t think of any other circumstance where a person who themselves is a victim of a crime is treated as the criminal.”