Marshae Jones was five months pregnant when she was shot in the stomach during a dispute with another woman in Alabama. Her fetus did not survive. Now, Jones has reportedly been charged in the death of the fetus.
Jones was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday and released from jail on Thursday after posting a $50,000 bond, The New York Times reports, citing authorities and the website of the Jefferson County Sherriff’s Office in Alabama. The police say Jones was responsible because she started the fight that led to the shooting and put herself in harm’s way.
“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,” Lt. Danny Reid of the Pleasant Grove Police Department said after the shooting in December, according to AL.com. “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight, which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby.”
The case comes amid a growing debate over the rights of pregnant women across the country, and in Alabama in particular. In May, the Alabama governor signed a bill banning abortion at every stage of pregnancy and criminalizing the procedure for doctors, the Times reports. The bill sets up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.
Abortion rights advocates have come to Jones’s defense in the wake of the arrest. “This is how people — especially women of color — are already being punished and having their pregnancies criminalized,” the National Abortion Federation, a professional association of abortion providers, said in a statement, according to the Times.
Jones was shot in the parking lot of a Dollar General store, according to AL.com, in an alleged dispute with another woman over the father of the child. The police initially charged the woman who shot Jones, Ebony Jemison, with manslaughter in the death of the fetus, according to AL.com, but the charge was dropped after a grand jury failed to indict her.