Let’s establish the scene. Here’s the cast:
- MJ – woman who is 5 months pregnant
- EJ – woman who is presumably-lawfully armed
Somewhere in Alabama. MJ starts some kind of altercation with EJ. Somehow the altercation escalates and EJ pulls a gun, shooting MJ in the stomach, ultimately resulting in a miscarriage. A grand jury hears evidence and returns an indictment against MJ for manslaughter in the loss of the pregnancy.
Pro-choice advocates become outraged. One is quoted as saying this:
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.
Except this has nothing to do with abortion. This isn’t any indication that women will be subjugated under the new anti-abortion laws, as many have readily alleged. A lot of pro-choice States have laws wherein it is counted as a homicide if a woman loses a pregnancy during the commission of a crime.
This isn’t about abortion in the least. But they want to paint his situation as such given the recent laws passed in Alabama all-but banning abortion.
MJ is Marshae Jones, a 27 year-old black woman who was 5 months pregnant at the time of the altercation. EJ is Ebony Jemison, 23 years old and, I’ll presume, also black. The incident occurred on December 4, 2018, so this wasn’t recent. Meaning it preceded the new abortion laws, so the new abortion laws cannot, under ex post facto, be applied to this.
The fight was allegedly about the MJ’s baby’s father. MJ started the fight, and escalated it to the point where EJ felt it necessary to produce the firearm. Quoting Lt Danny Reid of the Pleasant Grove, AL, police:
The investigation showed 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.
Again what is lost here is the fact that MJ started the fight. That means she is ultimately responsible for its outcome. That EJ produced the firearm means we can reasonably infer that MJ produced some kind of weapon as well, or gave reasonable indication she was about to produce a weapon. In response to a perceived threat, EJ produced her firearm and shot MJ, ultimately ending the altercation, and unfortunately ending MJ’s baby’s life as well.
Including any deaths that occurred. But in my attempt to explain this to various individuals online, I kept getting the sense that they felt EJ was in the wrong because she produced the firearm.
So far I’ve yet to see it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if someone would try to parallel this with the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown shootings, with the exception being an unarmed, pregnant woman is being charged with manslaughter. Because it’s the same mentality at play: whoever produces a gun is always in the wrong.
Again this case has nothing to do with abortion. It isn’t even about gun laws. But the recent Alabama abortion laws being on everyone’s minds, many have attempted to frame this in that light. So much so that Amanda Reyes, Executive Director of the Yellowhammer Fund, said this:
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.
And there is nothing about the incident and indictment that supports such a disgusting reduction.
MJ started the altercation. MJ escalated the incident to the point where EJ felt threatened. EJ produced a firearm and shot MJ. MJ lost her baby. MJ is therefore responsible for that. And under the laws of close to every other State in the US, she would still be held responsible unless EJ’s actions could be shown to have been an unreasonable response to how the altercation escalated.
Again this isn’t about Alabama’s new abortion laws, since they don’t apply here.
End of story.