Alabama prosecutors announced on Wednesday that the manslaughter charge against Marshae Jones—a woman criminalized after she was shot in the stomach while pregnant, ending her pregnancy, has been dropped—the New York Times reports.
Jones, 27, allegedly initiated a fight with a co-worker, who then shot her in the stomach. Public outrage followed the announcement last month that the shooter would not face any charges.
As ESSENCE previously reported, Ebony Jemison, 23, who was originally charged with manslaughter, was able to walk free after the grand jury declined to indict her.
Jefferson County, Alabama, District Attorney Lynneice Washington believes Jemison acted in self-defense, and still blames Jones for allegedly initiating a fist fight while being five months pregnant, the Times reports. Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid agrees.
“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,’’ Reid said at the time of the shooting. “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby.”
Jones’ attorney filed a motion to dismiss the charge against his client, arguing that the “State of Alabama, using a flawed and twisted rationale, charged a new theory of criminal liability that does not lawfully exist.”
Jones’ arrest sparked outrage across the country, and a rekindling of the national debate surrounding the state’s Heartbeat Law. Though it will not go into effect for another five months, the archaic law, a clear challenge to 1973’s landmark Roe v Wade decision, is a near-total abortion ban—making no exceptions for rape or incest survivors, and reclassifying abortion as a Class A felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison for doctors who provide them.
Though Jones did not get an abortion, organizers and activists believe that the vilification of Jones proves how little Alabama, its state agents, and even some of its citizens care about Black women’s bodies.