US woman charged with unborn baby's death after being shot in the stomach

Marshae Jones has been charged by Alabama authorities with the death of her fetus after she was shot five times

Marshae Jones has been indicted on manslaughter charges involving the shooting death of her unborn child. REUTERS 
Marshae Jones has been indicted on manslaughter charges involving the shooting death of her unborn child. REUTERS 

An American woman who miscarried after being shot five times has been charged by Alabama authorities with the death of her fetus, a move abortion rights groups condemned on Thursday.

The arrest of Marshae Jones came amid heightened tension around abortion after more than a dozen states in the southern and midwestern US, including Alabama, passed restrictive abortion laws that are being challenged in court.

"Marshae Jones was indicted for manslaughter for losing a pregnancy after being shot in the abdomen five times," tweeted the Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama group that gives financial help to people seeking abortions.

"Her shooter remains free. We're going to get Marshae out of jail."

Ms Jones, 27, was shot in December during a fight with another woman. While the shooter was initially charged by a grand jury, prosecutors dropped the case and brought charges against Ms Jones, who was arrested on Wednesday.

"The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby," Danny Reid, a police lieutenant in the town of Pleasant Grove where the December shooting took place, told the website AL.com.

"It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight that resulted in the death of her own unborn baby."

Last May, Alabama adopted a law banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest, equating it with homicide.

The law is set to come into force in November, but is likely to be blocked in court because it goes against the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling in Roe v Wade that legalised abortion.

The National Abortion Federation, which supports access to abortion, said Ms Jones's case was one of many where women who miscarried as a result of misfortunes such as prescription drug overdoses and car accidents were being prosecuted.

"This is how people, especially women of colour, are already being punished and having their pregnancies criminalised," the federation tweeted.

Most of the new restrictive abortion measures are expected to face legal challenges and eventually end up before the Supreme Court.

Supporters of the laws hope the justices will hand down a decision restricting the right to abortion nationwide.

The top US court is now dominated by a conservative majority, including two justices appointed by President Donald Trump.

Updated: June 28, 2019 04:21 AM

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