On Thursday, I covered the very political case of 27-year-old Alabama resident Marshae Jones, who started a fight last December which resulted in her getting shot in the stomach. Subsequently, her 5-months-along unborn child died. Marshae was charged for the baby’s death (here).
But now prosecutors are saying they may not go forward with the charges.
In a press release, District Attorney Lynneice Washington’s office announced they’ve not yet decided whether to pursue the manslaughter charge, reduce it, or drop the whole thing:
Foremost, it should be stated that this is a truly tragic case, resulting in the death of an unborn child,” the release stated. “We feel sympathy for the families involved, including Ms. Jones, who lost her unborn child. The fact that this tragedy was 100% avoidable makes this case even more disheartening.”
Plus, as reported by USA Today, there’s a little bit of shaky legal business at work:
[Marshae’s] charge appears to contradict a portion of Alabama’s Criminal Code. Though the code does include “fetal homicide” language, which defines an “unborn child in utero” as a human being, regardless of viability, the code also states that the prosecution of “any woman with respect to her unborn child” should not be permitted under criminal homicide charges like manslaughter.
“It’s the plain language of the statute,” said Andrew Skier, a Montgomery-based criminal defense attorney.
[A]fter reviewing the state code, Skier said he would file a motion to dismiss if he were involved in the case, “based on that statute” alone.
As would be expected, Planned Parenthood isn’t a fan of the case. That was made clear by Staci Fox, President and CEO of PP Southeast:
“The prosecution of Marshae Jones is absolutely reprehensible. It is more proof that Alabama will do everything in its power to criminalize pregnancy — especially for black women.”
But there is precedent, in a way. More from USA Today, in this instance echoing what some of you pointed out in response to the initial story:
Though the indictment of a woman for her own pregnancy loss is unusual in Alabama, it is not unusual for prosecutors to charge people with murder even if they never killed anyone. Felony murder doctrine allows for murder prosecutions if someone dies in the course of an felony.
Stay tuned for more. In the meantime, what do you think the district attorney should do? In the last discussion, many of you remarked on the legal aspect. What about the moral one? What would be just?
I look forward to hearing from you all.
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