Pregnant woman shot, charged with murder of unborn, shooter goes free
June 27, 2019 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Marshae Jones of Birmingham was five months pregnant when she was shot, by another woman, in a dispute about the baby's father. Ebony Jemison shot Jones in the abdomen. The mother survived the shooting, but it resulted in a miscarriage. A grand jury didn't return an indictment, and Jemison was not charged. Police then determined that Ms. Jones started the fight, and was therefore responsible for the death of her unborn child.

Lynn Paltrow, the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, told the Associated Press that Alabama leads the nation in mothers charged with crimes related to pregnancy.

Amanda Reyes, the executive director of the Yellowhammer Fund, said 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.’’

Alabama currently has the most restrictive abortion and pregnancy laws in the nation. Personhood amendments, like the one that creates the legal environment to charge women as fetal containers, are on the rise in every Republican controlled state.

previously on the blue: A Miscarriage of Justice
posted by dejah420 (76 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is so fucked I can't even.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:32 PM on June 27, 2019 [63 favorites]


i saw this this morning and didn't believe it at first. absolute insanity. no reasonably moral or logical person would think this was appropriate in any capacity.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2019 [8 favorites]


those flashbacks in handmaids tale are looking downright tame now.
posted by French Fry at 1:38 PM on June 27, 2019 [28 favorites]


This makes explicit the real intention of 'pro-life' legislation: to strip women of personhood and reduce us to baby-producing machines. This is an abomination on every level and I hope the charges against this poor woman are dropped.

And then I hope she finds a decent lawyer and sues the state into goddamned oblivion.
posted by jrochest at 1:44 PM on June 27, 2019 [133 favorites]


i can't even
posted by radiosilents at 1:45 PM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Don't ever drive in a car while pregnant because if someone else hits you with their car, it's negligence on your part.
posted by muddgirl at 1:49 PM on June 27, 2019 [13 favorites]


Reid said the fight stemmed over the unborn baby’s father. The investigation showed, he said, that it was Jones who initiated and pressed the fight, which ultimately caused Jemison to defend herself and unfortunately caused the death of the baby [....] The 5-month fetus was "dependent on its mother to try to keep it from harm, and she shouldn’t seek out unnecessary physical altercations,” Reid added.
(AL.com link in case a paywall is an issue.)

I can't actually fathom this logic. An argument isn't justified cause to shoot someone and the victim isn't the perpetrator.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:54 PM on June 27, 2019 [38 favorites]


I can't actually fathom this logic.

Let me help you: the cruelty is the point.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:01 PM on June 27, 2019 [53 favorites]


An argument isn't justified cause to shoot someone and the victim isn't the perpetrator.

Apparently, anything is a goddamn excuse to screw women over.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:02 PM on June 27, 2019 [7 favorites]


I originally saw this story on Facebook with a generic picture of a white pregnant belly attached. I feel like that ignores the reality that a white woman probably wouldn't have been charged the same way. I am not sure if it is better or worse than leading with the woman's mugshot.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:11 PM on June 27, 2019 [47 favorites]


An argument isn't justified cause to shoot someone

In the southern U.S., owning a gun is justified cause to shoot someone.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:11 PM on June 27, 2019 [16 favorites]


That's some serious *she was asking for it* bullshit. I'm so sad for her.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:12 PM on June 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


What the actual hell. How is this real life?
posted by stripesandplaid at 2:13 PM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


I feel like that ignores the reality that a white woman probably wouldn't have been charged the same way.

Yeah. There is no America in which a pregnant white woman, shot in the belly by another white woman who wasn't charged by police, would then be charged with manslaughter. It's no accident Marshae Jones is Black and poor. They wouldn't have prosecuted her otherwise.
posted by Nyrha at 2:15 PM on June 27, 2019 [72 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sorry that my comment minimized the racial injustice of this charge as well.
posted by muddgirl at 2:17 PM on June 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


Give that this is using the letter of the law to subvert the spirit of it, out of what seems like pure malice toward citizens these officials are charged to protect, and that this manipulation of the law is not applied equally, i wish we lived in a society where this would result in immediate stripping of the law license of any attorney involved in this prosecution. A lawyer could get in trouble for much smaller things under the federal rules of procedure, but they are insulated from punishment for something this cruel and counter to their oaths? That is wrong.
posted by sallybrown at 2:22 PM on June 27, 2019 [34 favorites]


Sometimes in past abortion threads people have noted that abortion restrictions would eventually lead to the criminalization of miscarriages. In some of those past threads other users have criticized said proclamations as “hyperbolic”.

God I wish this shit were hyperbole.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 2:44 PM on June 27, 2019 [99 favorites]


I am reminded of the racial and gender disparities that exist around "Stand Your Ground" laws, in which only certain people are afforded the argument of self-defense
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:53 PM on June 27, 2019 [22 favorites]


The pro-life movement isn't about protecting the lives of unborn fetuses. If it were, they would also support policies that increase the availability of education, housing, food, and health care to all children. Not to mention reducing proliferation of guns and gun violence. They don't support any of these things.

It's about controlling women. It's fucking scary stuff.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:11 PM on June 27, 2019 [40 favorites]


I am reminded of the racial and gender disparities that exist around "Stand Your Ground" laws, in which only certain people are afforded the argument of self-defense
A fair and important point in general, but in this particular case it was Ebony Jemison, a black woman, whose armed self-defence was found to be justified.
posted by kickingtheground at 3:14 PM on June 27, 2019 [7 favorites]


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," it states. I don’t believe that Jones would have been charged had she been white. That said, many folks are probably excited about this opportunity to remind all women in Alabama that their only true value is as baby-delivery vehicles.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:24 PM on June 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


This is also connected to the "fetal homicide" laws, common at both state and Federal levels.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:42 PM on June 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


Under Alabama's "Three Strikes" law:

✓ - Person of color
✓ - Woman
✓ - Poor

this appears to check out as the law no doubt intended..
posted by Nerd of the North at 4:09 PM on June 27, 2019 [18 favorites]


an argument broke out between her and another woman
The fight...led 23-year-old Ebony Jemison to shoot Jones in the stomach.
The passive voice is doing a lot of heavy lifting here.
posted by Hatashran at 4:44 PM on June 27, 2019 [33 favorites]


Pleasant Grove is a total misnomer.
Woman charged over gunshot miscarriage not Pleasant Grove’s first case against pregnant women.
posted by adamvasco at 5:01 PM on June 27, 2019 [9 favorites]


This makes me absolutely spitting mad. As does all the people who are ostensibly pro-choice being all like, well, actually, why would she get into a fight, knowing it could potentially hurt the baby? I mean, what the actual fuck? If this is the path we're going down, then literally anything a woman does calls into question whether it the best thing for a fetus. And at that, point, women well and truly are incubators only. We have already seen women in other states jailed for miscarriages. Around 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, an if we count the unknown ones, a majority of pregnancies end in miscarriage [cite]. The logical conclusion of fetal personhood says that the woman is at fault for all of these and it is FUCKED UP.

From the NYT: The Future of Personhood Nation

Would a woman who chooses to smoke cigarettes or drink wine during pregnancy be charged with a crime? What if a judge rules, or a police officer believes, she is risking the life of a fetus by, say, climbing a mountain, or riding a roller coaster, or undertaking a humanitarian mission in a war zone? Who will decide whether a pregnant woman diagnosed with cancer may undergo chemotherapy?

Every health decision facing a pregnant woman that might affect the fetus would be up for scrutiny by prosecutors, the courts and expectant fathers. A pregnant woman would cease to exist as an autonomous person. Her womb would become a legal battleground.

Conferring personhood on fertilized eggs could also call into question the legality of treatments like IVF (which often involves fertilizing multiple eggs, with the understanding that not all will result in embryos and viable pregnancies) and of some common birth control methods, like the pill, IUDs, vaginal rings and the morning-after pill. A black market for abortion pills and birth control would flourish.


A Woman's Rights (same link as above):

You might be surprised to learn that in the United States a woman coping with the heartbreak of losing her pregnancy might also find herself facing jail time. Say she got in a car accident in New York or gave birth to a stillborn in Indiana: In such cases, women have been charged with manslaughter.

In fact, a fetus need not die for the state to charge a pregnant woman with a crime. Women who fell down the stairs, who ate a poppy seed bagel and failed a drug test or who took legal drugs during pregnancy — drugs prescribed by their doctors — all have been accused of endangering their children.


The whole multi-part series is in that link if you keep scrolling. They're all excellent and fucking horrifying.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:20 PM on June 27, 2019 [31 favorites]


I can't see the details of the "argument" anywhere, but apparently the actions of Marshae Jones (the 5 months pregnant woman) were serious/violent(?) enough that a grand jury refused to indict Ebony Jemison for shooting her in self defence. Presumably if they were just yelling at each other Jemison would have been charged with the murder of the fetus.

Alabama has consistently upheld its fetal homicide laws, that view an unborn child as a human being. 38 other states have similar laws. The vast majority of prosecutions under these laws are of men charged with killing/harming their pregnant partners, though there are some exceptions (mostly drug use, suicide, reckless or dangerous behaviour while pregnant)

The logic is simple - if you believe that the fetus at any stage of development is a human being that deserves protection, then endangering that fetus (by driving drunk, doing drugs, entering into violent confrontations) risks criminal liability, treating the fetus no differently than a infant. This woman is being charged in the exact same way as if she had brought her newborn to a fight (in which case presumably nobody would have a problem with her prosecution).

Obviously if you believe that a fetus is not a human being, and not deserving of any protection whatsoever, you will disagree with the outcome here. But that is a fundamental disagreement over the pricinples involved, not the unfairness of this particular law/situation. It's hardly illogical or capricious given the viewpoints involved. The fight here is still just about abortion, and when, if ever, a fetus has rights. Arguing about the extensions of that dispute seems beside the point to me.
posted by Mirax at 5:39 PM on June 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


This woman is being charged in the exact same way as if she had brought her newborn to a fight (in which case presumably nobody would have a problem with her prosecution).

Even accepting the premise of equating the fetus with a child, which many will disagree with, I don’t think this assumption is correct. A parent is with her child and provokes a fight with another adult. That adult pulls out a gun and shoots in self-defense, killing the child. You don’t think people would have a problem with the parent being charged with manslaughter? What about a parent who leaves a loaded gun in an accessible place and the child finds it? A parent who drives aggressively and gets into an accident? Those deserve a manslaughter charge? If it was a white dad with money who got into a road rage incident?
posted by sallybrown at 5:53 PM on June 27, 2019 [22 favorites]


Those deserve a manslaughter charge?

I don't know what the law specifically says but, yes? I would think so?
posted by Mirax at 5:55 PM on June 27, 2019


Yeah, I don't know that she knew the other person had a gun and homicidal intentions. If she did, she probably would not have gotten into it, whether with a fetus or a baby.

It seems to me that a disposable person is being ground up in the politics machine. It would not have happened to a person who "mattered."
posted by sjswitzer at 5:55 PM on June 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


An update from AL.com has a couple of ways to donate to help Marshae raise the $50,000 bail and fund her defense.

The National Advocates for Pregnant Women, linked in the OP, also looks like a great organization to donate to.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:57 PM on June 27, 2019 [8 favorites]


god damn this fucking place dude. what fucking year is it sweet jesus my brain
posted by Bwentman at 5:58 PM on June 27, 2019 [10 favorites]


That adult pulls out a gun and shoots in self-defense, killing the child

So, self-defense against a baby? I'm not sure that's a colorable defense.

This case is some bullshit Felony Murder Rule bullshit, and it's bullshit. Feels like the DA was just like, "well, someone's gotta pay..."
posted by rhizome at 5:59 PM on June 27, 2019 [16 favorites]


But OMG the comments on that AL.com article are all against Marshae (she made bad decisions) and in favor of the indictment (she has to pay for her bad decisions).
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:02 PM on June 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


I don't know what the law specifically says but,

This woman is being charged in the exact same way as if she had brought her newborn to a fight (in which case presumably nobody would have a problem with her prosecution).

So...you don't know what the law says but you're definitely sure you know what the law says and that this is all very logical and in no way an extension of a principle of any kind.
posted by praemunire at 6:03 PM on June 27, 2019 [40 favorites]


Feels like the DA was just like, "well, someone's gotta pay..."

Another stark difference you see in tragic accidents and deaths involving mild to moderate negligence—the richer, whiter, and otherwise more “upstanding” the potential defendant is, the more you hear the idea that “isn’t it punishment enough that she lost her child? She will have to live with that for the rest of her life.” Part of the anger you see the community express at defendants who aren’t “upstanding” (especially women, poor women, women of color) is this feeling, drawn from stereotype, that “you are irresponsible, you weren’t careful, you don’t have our values.” There is no “she lost her baby, that’s punishment enough.” There’s no assumption that of course she would never have wanted to put her baby at risk.
posted by sallybrown at 6:08 PM on June 27, 2019 [65 favorites]


Christ, she’s actually in a jail cell unable to make bail and it’s unknown if she has attorney. What is she going to do, get pregnant and shot in the stomach again?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:02 PM on June 27, 2019 [14 favorites]


My reaction to this is...well...ugh. Other posters are voicing my disgust pretty adequately.

But it reminds me of this thing I read on ectogenisis - the process of gestating a fetus outside the womb. It looks like the technology is close. I expect to live to see it.

I expect, like abortion and contraceptives, it will immediately be bogged down in controversy once proven relatively safe. "ORLLY Alabama? I can't endanger my fetus by carrying it around? Here then, YOU gestate it, call me in 9 months when it's done, I'll be over here eating soft cheese and oysters. Thanks tax dollars! Or don't, because I can consign it to the state orphanage and give up all parenting rights and move to a blue state. Hey, YOU banned abortion, not me." Well...yeah...actually that could get into a nasty debt-slave situation too for the mothers, and lead to horrible state-run orphanages as a replacement for/adjunct to the prison-industrial complex. I dunno. If the goal was secretly always to oppress women, I think the more alternatives to pregnancy we have, the harder conservatives have to work to do it, and at this point, any spanner in the works of the patriarchy makes me happy.

I found this article on the current state of artificial womb technology, and this was interesting:
two international teams recently succeeded in keeping human embryos conceived through IVF alive in a laboratory for 12 to 13 days — shattering the old record of nine days and one day shy of the “14-day rule,” a voluntary prohibition among scientists limiting human embryo research to the period before the appearance of the “primitive streak,” a band of cells that mark the beginnings of the brain and spinal cord.
So, if we're almost there except for this 14 day limit we voluntarily subscribe to, for completely understandable not-wanting-to-be-Dr. Mengele reasons...I dunno. It changes the context for these laws a little. My hope is that natural gestation becomes a respectable lifestyle choice, like childbirth without anesthetic, and that walking around pregnant stops being a lever for oppressing women, but the wiser part of me says feminism and equality for women still has a loooong fight ahead, that we're still in the early days, and that the more we fight injustice today, the easier it will be to lop off the patriarchy's next hydra-headed assault.

Part of the anger you see the community express at defendants who aren’t “upstanding” (especially women, poor women, women of color) is this feeling, drawn from stereotype, that “you are irresponsible, you weren’t careful, you don’t have our values.” There is no “she lost her baby, that’s punishment enough.” There’s no assumption that of course she would never have wanted to put her baby at risk.

Cute how the problem isn't that guns are everywhere. I wonder, if Jones had simply brought a gun and shot Jemison first, what would the charges be? Is the moral of the story that all pregnant women in Alabama should carry guns and shoot first? Imagine the protests we could have! Like the Black Panthers except it's all moms with AK-47's draped in bandoliers marching around the Montgomery legislative district, daring anyone to look at them funny, because they have to protect their fetuses, and that means they have to shoot first.

The future won't quite be Handmaid's Tale. Wombs won't be in short supply. But I sure as shit would like to live in a world where it's not my fault for getting shot while pregnant.
posted by saysthis at 7:29 PM on June 27, 2019 [9 favorites]


Cute how the problem isn't that guns are everywhere. I wonder, if Jones had simply brought a gun and shot Jemison first, what would the charges be? Is the moral of the story that all pregnant women in Alabama should carry guns and shoot first? Imagine the protests we could have! Like the Black Panthers except it's all moms with AK-47's draped in bandoliers marching around the Montgomery legislative district, daring anyone to look at them funny, because they have to protect their fetuses, and that means they have to shoot first.

This is a derail. The problem is not guns in this case, and we're not talking about artificial gestation.
posted by Nyrha at 7:47 PM on June 27, 2019 [6 favorites]




" if you believe that the fetus at any stage of development is a human being that deserves protection, then endangering that fetus (by driving drunk, doing drugs, entering into violent confrontations) risks criminal liability, treating the fetus no differently than a infant. "

I mean ... when I taught medical ethics, one of the cautionary tales in the casebook was about pregnant women with diabetes, who were held against their will and institutionalized for seeking out what is now the standard of care for pregnant women with diabetes, but at the time was considered reckless endangerment of the fetus. Those women who were institutionalized and subjected to the old-fashioned treatment lost their fetuses at ALARMING rates, but the medical establishment distrusted the emerging treatment protocols (simply because they were new, and because diabetic women had rarely been able to be successfully pregnant), and the legal establishment agreed that these women were endangering their unborn children by seeking out cutting-edge treatment that would enable their children to survive.

So, like, when male-led establishments want to talk about "endangering [a] fetus" and how it should result in legal sanctions such as criminal charges or involuntary institutionalization for the duration of pregnancy, I get pretty damn suspicious of the entire enterprise. Those institutions are not there to protect fetuses or to ensure pregnant women get adequate care. They're there to enforce hierarchies of control over pregnant women's bodies, even when their enforcement kills more fetuses than it saves. But they, somehow, are always exempt from prosecution for actions like mistreating pregnant women in prisons to the point that they lose the fetus or chaining imprisoned women to beds to deliver with significantly worse outcomes for both mother and baby or forcing women to receive medical care they do not want that kills mother or baby or both. When men in the control structure are held accountable for the incredible harm they do to pregnant women and to fetuses and newborns, I will believe that there's a legitimate rationale (although still not a good one) to holding pregnant women accountable for endangering their fetuses. But this is 100% about control. It's not at all about the fetus. Not one bit. It's about punishing women, especially if they are poor, or black, or addicted, or mentally ill, for being sexually active. That's it. That's the whole thing.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:32 PM on June 27, 2019 [91 favorites]


The problem is not guns in this case

The problem is absolutely guns in this case! The US's god damned gun fetish has gotten to the point where a "stand-your-ground" defense applies to attacking fetuses. Criminalizing the mom for not stepping away from the bullet is another side of the same insane coin. Like gunshots are some kind of fucking environmental hazard she didn't protect her baby from.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:33 PM on June 27, 2019 [22 favorites]


Didn't you know that getting shot 5 times is super easy, barely an inconvenience... Hence the need to punish you for your fetuses death.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 8:36 PM on June 27, 2019


No. In this case, the problem is not guns. The state of Alabama would have charged Marshae Jones with manslaughter if Ebony Jemison had stabbed her five times, or pushed her down a flight of stairs. In this case, the problem is absolutely not guns.
posted by Nyrha at 8:36 PM on June 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


This is a derail. The problem is not guns in this case, and we're not talking about artificial gestation.
posted by Nyrha at 11:47 AM on June 28 [1 favorite +] [!]


You're right. I was being facetious about the guns, and I could have made that clearer. Guns are not the central problem in this particular legal case, and solving guns would not solve the gross mistreatment of women at work here.

Artificial gestation is not a solution to this case either, but I think it's a useful thought experiment to imagine where this kind of misogyny will go as new options develop. Because...

It's about punishing women, especially if they are poor, or black, or addicted, or mentally ill, for being sexually active. That's it. That's the whole thing.

There is no solution but standing up to the punishment of women wherever we find it and whatever name it goes by.

No derail intended, I will go away now.
posted by saysthis at 8:39 PM on June 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


No, normalizing of casual gun use is not the central issue here - but it ain't helping the situation any, either.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:45 PM on June 27, 2019 [10 favorites]


I don't think you have to go away, or should. There have been deliberate attempts to derail fraught discussions on MetaFilter, especially regarding Black women. You weren't deliberately attempting a derail.
posted by Nyrha at 8:46 PM on June 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


No. In this case, the problem is not guns. The state of Alabama would have charged Marshae Jones with manslaughter if Ebony Jemison had stabbed her five times

There are two miscarriages of justice in this case. One is that Marshae Jones is being held liable for being shot. You can split your hairs about the murder weapon on this case, sure. I don't disagree that the state is being particularly cruel because she's a mother.

But the other miscarriage is that the *shooter was not charged at all!* Because apparently in Alabama you are free to shoot people if they scare you. (and in Alberta too, fwiw). That's gun culture.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:46 PM on June 27, 2019 [24 favorites]


Popular Ethics, agreed. And the same grand jury declined to indict Ebony Jemison on the same day they indicted Marshae Jones. link

All felony arrests go before a grand jury to either charge (true bill) or decline to charge (no bill) the suspect. In this case, authorities put all evidence before a Bessemer Cutoff grand jury which convened on April 8, 2019.

Four days later, on April 12, the grand jury indicted Jones and declined to indict Jemison based on the evidence presented to them. Indictments are only made public once the defendant has been arrested and served, which is why news of the charges against Jones were made public Wednesday.

posted by Nyrha at 8:56 PM on June 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


My (unfinished, because my advisor died and nobody else was willing to take it) dissertation was about feminist bioethics, reproductive rights and focused on the (at the time) new laws mandating post mortem prenatal ventilation when a pregnant person died. This was the early 90s. I've been warning for decades that these laws were slowly but surely eroding the rights of women and subsuming them to the rights of a fetus, treating women as naught but fetal containers, living incubators who are stripped of rights the moment an egg meets a sperm.

I've been handwaved away as being hyberbolic, or seeking the worst case scenario, of not understanding how good these laws are for the "protection" of women and children. Of promulgating outrage where none was needed. They regularly ventilate corpses now. Even though no healthy baby has ever been born of a long term ventilation. But it sure is a nice way to bill a dead woman's family for millions of dollars in fees, even AND THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, when the woman expressly had DNR records on file. Pregnant people have no rights or autonomy in any state where Personhood laws have been enacted, if those rights seem to conflict with what is now the State's right to force that person to perform a perfect pregnancy with a perfect outcome, as defined by everyone who cannot become pregnant.
posted by dejah420 at 9:22 PM on June 27, 2019 [74 favorites]


"I long for row of orc necks, which I may hew, with my ax."

Wow, this is nearly as clearly wrong as a pack of orcs. That it's debated is just another example of bullshit ruling the day, while the planet circles the drain.

And seriously, jail, pending trial? Bail set so high it takes a campaign to raise? How is that in keeping with the founder's intentions for this supposedly "free" country?

Freedom isn't free, and that's why the right hates it. Costs them taxes. oops. Best keep everyone down. Only freedom they believe in, is guns. And the idiots believe, as long as they have guns, they are "free", even thought they've been carefully educated stupid, so they don't even know what "freedom" actually is.
posted by Goofyy at 5:38 AM on June 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


This woman is being charged in the exact same way as if she had brought her newborn to a fight (in which case presumably nobody would have a problem with her prosecution).

This may be the most coldly monstrous thing I've read on metafilter.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 5:59 AM on June 28, 2019 [25 favorites]


The South has a complicated relationship with forced breeding, meaning that their practices were not always laws, but plantation policies, now tradition. I would wager that the Klan's base was always a set of work gang bosses and they always punished people for abortion and infanticide-as-resistance, because of the lost profits to slavery as a business model. And they never believed in personal freedom anyway, merely degrees of entitlement based on rank. Scatch under the surface of liberatarianism and you'll find a sly method of replacing laws with company policies.
posted by Brian B. at 5:59 AM on June 28, 2019 [6 favorites]




Christ, she’s actually in a jail cell unable to make bail and it’s unknown if she has attorney. What is she going to do, get pregnant and shot in the stomach again?

Almost a quarter of the people locked up in the US have not been convicted of anything so this is, sadly, a very common reason for people to be in jail.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:21 AM on June 28, 2019 [15 favorites]


This woman is being charged in the exact same way as if she had brought her newborn to a fight (in which case presumably nobody would have a problem with her prosecution).

Oddly enough, they are only charging one of the parents. I wonder why that is.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:44 AM on June 28, 2019 [10 favorites]


in which case presumably nobody would have a problem with her prosecution

When I see statements like this, all I can think is that these people actually think other people agree with them in large numbers which is sad. the "nobody" or "everyone" is generally just the one person speaking, but they sadly don't understand that's what they are telling us.
posted by French Fry at 6:45 AM on June 28, 2019 [23 favorites]


This woman is being charged in the exact same way as if she had brought her newborn to a fight (in which case presumably nobody would have a problem with her prosecution).

Just logging for the record that I have a problem with this.

I think a comparable scenario if you DO want to consider a fetus a baby (I do not) is a father is driving his child. An incident of road rage occurs; the other driver shoots into the car and kills the child. Can you see the father being charged with manslaughter?
posted by warriorqueen at 7:56 AM on June 28, 2019 [32 favorites]


In an attempt to bring this back to issues of race rather than one invidual who presented opinons many disagreed with as facts.

I presume that most of these cases (mothers' prosecution for fetal death) involve people of color - echoing Brian B's comment. Does anyone know if there is information on the racial breakdown? Is it any worse than incarceration at large?
posted by lab.beetle at 9:14 AM on June 28, 2019 [3 favorites]


This is the only peer-reviewed paper on arrests and forced interventions in pregnancies (PDF, but free), which looks at cases from 1973 to 2005. It is very geographically biased -- the majority of cases are in the South -- and more than that, tends to cluster in specific counties or even specific hospitals, so overzealousness of particular police departments, prosecutors, and hospitals is a major "risk factor."

It is very racially biased (black women are substantially more likely to be arrested or be forced to receive treatment against their will), but poverty is the largest determining factor, and it's important to note that in areas where this is common ALL women are at risk.

There are some advocacy groups that track reported incidents and have more recent statistics, but I don't know who's got good ones off the top of my head.

I'm so fucking glad I'll never be pregnant again.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:49 AM on June 28, 2019 [17 favorites]


This has nothing to do with guns, and nothing to do with babies or fetuses. It's all about reducing women's rights. I have no idea what to do about it, other than to go into orbit and nuke the whole fucking country from space.
posted by corvikate at 10:11 AM on June 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


My horror and outrage over this situation has intersectionality. It's about race. It's about class and poverty. It's about sex and gender. It's about fascism and the police state. It's about religion. It's about the normalization of gun culture. None of those things negates the other.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:47 PM on June 28, 2019 [24 favorites]


Can states be sued for "endangerment of unborn children" for policy measures such as lack of healthcare or social security?

Use their own rhetoric against them in court?
posted by divabat at 3:53 PM on June 28, 2019 [11 favorites]


Can states be sued for "endangerment of unborn children" for policy measures such as lack of healthcare or social security?

In federal court, suing a state government over this would be a nonstarter. Failing to provide these things doesn't implicate any of the specific rights that are listed in the constitution, so you would have to look at the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment, among other things, acts as a sort of catch-all. It prevents the state from violating rights that we have, but which aren't listed specifically in the constitution (called "unenumerated rights"). The Supreme Court (and lower federal courts if the Supreme Court hasn't weighed in) decides what unenumerated rights we do and don't have. While the Supreme Court does sometimes change their minds about this stuff, cases like DeShaney v. Winnebago County (a brutal child abuse case) make it clear that the Supreme Court does not view protecting or helping children to be a constitutional obligation of the state.

There are other ways you could go about this in federal court (say that the state gave it to you and then took it away without due process; say that the state is discriminating against a protected class). But neither one of those would be likely to work, mainly because it is totally okay to discriminate against poor people, so this seems like this is a non-starter.

That doesn't mean no one could sue states about this, but they would have to do so in state court based on the state's violation of state law. That would be a whole different ball of wax, and would vary state by state. I don't think it's likely to be a viable course of action, but I would not know for sure.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:06 PM on June 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


all I can think is that these people actually think other people agree with them in large numbers which is sad

Sadly large numbers of people in the US clearly do think about this the way Mirax does, and I don't know that "nuke it from orbit"-type comments are helping (my own immediate response of "sterilize humanity, men first, and start over with dolphins" is probably not helpful either).

We collectively have to try to fix this reasoning.

You can sue a state about anything, however hopelessly. But although it would keep national attention on the cause, a whole shitload of Congress would get all het up over "state's rights" and it would be a non-starter.

That said, I'd sure rather see the Tom Steyers and Mayor Bloombergs of the country throw their money at such a lawsuit than at Andrew Yang and Diamond Joe.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:04 AM on June 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


You can sue a state about anything, however hopelessly. But although it would keep national attention on the cause, a whole shitload of Congress would get all het up over "state's rights" and it would be a non-starter.

In federal court, you really cannot sue a state over anything. The eleventh amendment to the constitution explicitly prevents it. I mean, you can file it I guess? But I don't see it getting to a point where Congress would be involved.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:48 AM on June 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


To be clear, you can sue states in federal court, but only in highly specific situations, none of which is at all likely to apply here. (The 14th Amendment allows you to sue states despite the 11th Amendment, but you have to do it "through" the 14th Amendment, which is...complicated.)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:50 AM on June 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


"Give that this is using the letter of the law to subvert the spirit of it..."

*citation needed
(what I mean, as pointed out in the thread already is that - no... this is a perfect example of the spirit of it. This is 100% why it exists. This is not an "in spite of" it is a "because of").
posted by symbioid at 3:49 PM on June 29, 2019


the moment I heard this was not danny reid's first time imprisoning a pregnant woman, I immediately assumed he was white and they were all black.

and as far as I can tell, I was right. Surprise!

the details in the article adamvasco linked above include such gems as:

In 2016, Pleasant Grove police took a stand to protect the fetus of a pregnant drug user by keeping the woman in jail.

But authorities from Pleasant Grove and the Bessemer District Attorney’s Office wound up in a standoff with UAB Hospital over care for pregnant inmates. Pleasant Grove police Reid requested no bond for a pregnant drug user, in order to hold her in jail to prevent drug use before the baby’s birth.

"I'm doing my damndest to try to prevent any further damage to this child, since it's obvious the mother doesn't seem to care,'' Reid said in that case.

Medical experts from the hospital argued the move would keep the woman from getting proper treatment and could potentially cause major complications such as miscarriage. The inmate’s doctor requested her release to a drug treatment facility, but Reid lobbied for jail instead, arguing that the facility couldn’t force her to stay.

I assume Reid wasn't volunteering to be charged for fetal endangerment if jailing the woman did end in miscarriage. What a disgusting cretin.
posted by Cozybee at 11:32 PM on June 29, 2019 [10 favorites]


Huh, it's almost as though those of us who expressed our terror at these laws being passed were not crying wolf or fearmongering or hyperbolic when we said they signaled an outright war on people who can get pregnant in these states. The US Supreme Court just declined to review the lower court stay of the Alabama abortion ban, so abortion is still legal there, but whether the law is in effect or not, people who get pregnant there (and here in Georgia, too) are not safe.
posted by hydropsyche at 7:24 AM on June 30, 2019 [8 favorites]


Some good news—the DA is dropping the charges against Marshae Jones.
posted by sallybrown at 12:31 PM on July 3, 2019 [8 favorites]


WBRC has more, including a copy of the DA's statement (PDF), which is ... not great.
Statement from Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lynneice Washington on the Marshae Jones case:

“As I have previously stated, this is truly a disturbing and heart-breaking case. An unborn child was tragically lost, and families on both sides of this matter have suffered. Nothing we do today or in the future will change that reality. The issue before us is whether it’s appropriate to try to hold someone legally culpable for the actions that led to the death of the unborn child. There are no winners, only losers, in this sad ordeal.

“After reviewing 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 hereby dismissing this case, and no further legal action will be taken against Ms. Jones in this matter.

“It is important to point out that our decision not to prosecute Ms. Jones is in no way a criticism of the hardworking and conscientious members of the Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff Grand Jury who answered the call to public duty. These citizens took the evidence resented them by the Pleasant Grove Police Department and made what they believed to be a reasonable decision to indict Ms. Jones. The members of the Grand Jury took to heart that the life of an unborn child was violently ended and believed someone should be held accountable. But in the interest of all concerned, we are not prosecuting this case.

“Those Grand Jury members heard literally hundreds of cases presented to them in April, and I want to sincerely thank them for their service.”
Copied in full for ease of reading, posterity, and to highlight the fact that the DA doesn't find Ms. Jones to not be at fault, but rather "it is not in the best interest of justice to pursue prosecution of Ms. Jones" -- which, I get, the unborn baby is dead, and charging Marshae Jones with manslaughter won't change that.

But there's more words of sorrow about the loss of an unborn life, and even more to say the jury's not at fault, and they're doing a bang-up job of their civil service, than anything about Ms. Jones.

Oh, and no word of the woman who shot Ms. Jones, or Marshae's suffering through all of this, either as the mother-to-be who lost her unborn child, or more broadly as an physically and emotionally injured human.

WBRC also has the statement from Marshae Jones’ attorney.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:16 PM on July 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


Nobody in the "justice system" seems to mention that she, Marshae, was shot in the belly! That's a fucking awful thing to have happen to you. It's just surreal.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:34 PM on July 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


Also missing from the DA's statement: the fact that if they went forward with the charges, they would probably lose in embarrassing fashion, because their charges brought aren't permissible under Alabama law, per Marshae's lawyers' motion to dismiss.

Some highlights:

The charge of manslaughter is a type of criminal homicide codified in the Alabama Code at Title 13A, Chapter 6, Article 1. Under the facts alleged and statute cited in the Indictment, the Indictment against Ms. Jones is due to be dismissed because Alabama law does not permit the prosecution of a woman under Article 1 as it relates to her unborn child.
Specifically, Ala. Code § 13A-6-1(d)(2) states:
“Nothing in Article 1 or Article 2 shall permit the prosecution of … any woman with respect to her unborn child.”


and

The Indictment expands the criminal statutes by illegally creating a new crime of “felony manslaughter” or “transferred intent manslaughter.” The Indictment charges that Ms. Jones intended to kill her unborn child because she initiated a fight with another person. There is no allegation that Ms. Jones intended to kill the person with whom she allegedly “initiat[ed] a fight.” The Indictment expressly charges that the criminal intent is against the unborn child, not the alleged but unnamed combatant involved in the fight. The State thus appears to be asserting a newly created criminal offense of “transferred intent manslaughter” which does not exist under Alabama law.

I'm glad for Marshae's sake that this is over now, but there's a part of me that would have liked to see the DA's office get their asses handed to them in court for this bullshit.
posted by creepygirl at 6:47 PM on July 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


I would like to think that prosecuting someone outside of clearly established law would at least get them sanctioned, if not bar-complaint'ed.
posted by rhizome at 8:10 PM on July 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


Bodily Autonomy. I am an adult and I should be able to live my life whether or not there's a fetus residing in me. And this is why I am increasingly adamantly pro-choice. Women deserve bodily and every other form of autonomy. There are some gray areas, and the more the Extreme Right pushes their agenda, the more I just say Fuck It, women's autonomy is more important.
posted by theora55 at 4:44 PM on July 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


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