At least two pro-abortion rights groups were working to raise funds to bail out a woman who was indicted this week for the death of her unborn child who was killed during a shooting last year in Alabama. Marshae Jones, who was five months’ pregnant when she was shot by another woman, was arrested after a grand jury returned a manslaughter indictment against her on Wednesday.
“Though Jones didn’t fire the shots that killed her unborn baby girl, authorities say she initiated the dispute that led to the gunfire,” AL.com reported. “Police initially charged 23-year-old Ebony Jemison with manslaughter, but the charge against Jemison was dismissed after the grand jury failed to indict her.”
The National Abortion Federation tweeted that Jones was the victim of Alabama punishing Black women and their pregnancies, a reference to the state’s recent restrictive laws that would give doctors up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion.
Both the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund and the Yellowhammer Fund were soliciting and accepting donations as of Thursday afternoon to raise enough funds to bail Jones out of jail while she awaits trial. She was being held on $50,000 bond.
Yellowhammer’s executive director blasted the indictment as the latest example of Alabama’s disregard for the rights of both women and Black people.
“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,’’ Amanda Reyes said before continuing. “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. … “We commit ourselves to making sure that Marshae is released from jail on bond, assisting with her legal representation, and working to ensure that she gets justice for the multiple attacks that she has endured.”
Local police blamed Jones for the shooting when it happened in December.
“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,’’ Pleasant Grove Police Lt. Danny Reid said at the time. “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby.”
Alabama’s legislation was also seen as a swipe at Black women.
“Black women know that whenever you criminalize abortion, then it’s Black women who are going to be locked up,” Georgia state Rep. Renitta Shannon told Rolling Stone. “Whenever you don’t cover abortions through insurance, it’s young Black women who are going to suffer — we’re the majority of the minimum-wage earners. All this stuff is connected.”
Alabama also happens to have highest the proportion of Black women out of any U.S. state, according to data scientist and policy analyst Samuel Sinyangwe.