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Thu, Jul

Marshae Jones - Alabama Woman Indicted for Death of Her Fetus. Booking image released by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

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A pregnant woman, who was shot in the stomach by another woman, was recently charged with manslaughter in the death of her unborn baby.
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The state of Alabama has always been somewhat radical. They threw themselves headlong into slavery, and after it was abolished, Alabama championed segregation. The state, and still is, known for unsteady race relations, and from its illustrious history, it’s clear that Alabama is also right-leaning in its tendencies.

As a right-leaning state, Alabama is also known for being extremely pro-life. Earlier this year, they caused nationwide uproar as they joined several other southern and midwestern states in banning abortions after the fetus is 6 to 8 weeks old -- when the fetus has developed a heartbeat. Many women at this stage of pregnancy are unaware that they are pregnant, making it difficult for them to obtain abortions within their allotted timeframe. While many called this new law unconstitutional, and repressive towards women, Alabama took it yet another step further. They did so by banning all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. Abortion is only allowed if it is proved by a doctor that the mother’s life will be endangered by carrying the pregnancy to term. Protesters cried that women’s rights were under attack, while supporters hoped this restriction would ultimately bring down Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court Case that legalized abortion nationwide.

Judging by Alabama’s staunch anti-abortion stance, it’s clear that they believe that unborn human life is valid. They are not wrong, as fetuses are unborn children. However, their view on abortion is more restrictive than necessary. Victims of rape or incest should not be forced to carry pregnancies that they never wanted to begin with to term. They already lost the right to control their bodies once and forcing them to carry these unborn babies -- children who will serve as daily reminders of their trauma, and of their attackers -- is wrong. In these cases especially, a woman deserves the right to choose.

What Alabama and its lawmakers doesn’t seem to understand is that women don’t just go to get abortions on a random whim, the same way one might get a coffee at a drive-thru. There is a lot of thought involved, because even if it is a necessary evil, it is still an evil nonetheless. With the countless methods of birth control available to both men and women alike, unplanned pregnancies are decreasing, and a study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that spanned the years 2006 to 2015 saw that fewer women were having abortions. And as science continues to improve and birth control methods becomes more effective, the number of women having abortions will decrease on its own, so I feel that instilling these aggressive laws will serve no purpose in the end. Science continues to outdo itself, so at any time in the future, this will be a nonissue.

However, cruel it may sound, forcing women to carry fetuses of unwanted pregnancies will undoubtedly result in neglected children and an influx of children in the foster care system. Foster care in the US is already a disaster -- many children are abused by caretakers or siblings within their foster families or are mainly taken into foster homes because the foster parents want the government stipend that comes with this. Adoption is never a guarantee, and only about 45% of foster kids go to college. They often seem to have limited educational opportunities and only 10% of them graduate with a bachelor's degree. Despite America being the land of opportunity, this is a tough country for kids within the foster care system

In light of these earlier facts and opinions, I now transition to another case that has rocked the American media. A pregnant woman, who was shot in the stomach by another woman, was recently charged with manslaughter in the death of her unborn baby.

The pregnant woman in question is 28-year-old Marshae Jones, who was shot by 23-year-old Ebony Jemison after the two got into a fight regarding the paternity of Jones’s unborn child. Jemison was originally charged with manslaughter, until police investigation found that Jones had instigated the fight. Jemison’ manslaughter charge was then transferred to Jones, and the Jefferson County grand jury indicted her instead. Jemison, the shooter, was not charged with anything.

The indictment read that Jones “intentionally” caused the death of her unborn baby by instigating a fight, knowing she was 5 months pregnant. But did Jones start that fight, actively looking to be shot? As Ebony Jemison held the gun to her, did Jones call out for her to angle downwards, so that the bullet would hit the fetus?

Marshae Jones did not wake up that day, hoping to lose her baby to gun violence, looking to lose her baby to gun violence. It is glaringly obvious that the only criminal, the only perpetrator, the only person who should be held as guilty, is Jemison. Unless Jones was carrying a weapon, how much of a threat could the pregnant woman have posed to her, to the point where she had to shoot Jones out of “self-defense”? Moreover, even if the altercation between the two did turn physical, and Jones did feel a need to defend herself, it was still her decision to shoot Marshae Jones in the stomach. Jemison knew that Jones was pregnant and considering that the two were arguing about the paternity of Jones’s unborn baby, it’s highly probable that Ebony Jemison shot her there intentionally. Whatever it was that was being said, it clearly upset Jemison, and led her to commit that heinous action.

Even though the charges against Marshae Jones were dropped on July 3rd, this case provides a startling insight on the criminal justice system and on women’s’ reproductive rights in the US. For one of the most progressive countries in the world, the US is sometimes incredibly unfounded in its reasoning, and in the cases it chooses to pursue. It’s astounding that the prosecution even considered trying to pursue such a case, when they had already let the shooter off the hook.

Maybe the court was looking to serve justice, but they dished it out in all the wrong places.

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