At the time, the police said Ms. Jones’s “involvement and culpability” would be presented to a grand jury to determine if she, too, should be charged.
“When a five-month pregnant woman initiates a fight and attacks another person, I believe some responsibility lies with her as to any injury to her unborn child,” Lt. Danny Reid of the Pleasant Grove Police Department said then. “That child is dependent on its mother to try to keep it from harm, and she shouldn’t seek out unnecessary physical altercations.”
Abortion rights activists, already up in arms over Alabama’s recent adoption of the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country, assailed the indictment of Ms. Jones as a demonstration of the dangers of the “personhood” movement, which presses for laws like those in Alabama that give the rights of fetuses equal or greater weight than the rights of the women who carry them. An organization that supports abortion rights in Alabama, the Yellowhammer Fund, helped Ms. Jones post bail.
But the case provoked little outrage in Pleasant Grove, the city of 10,000 people on the western edge of Birmingham where Ms. Jones was shot.
[Why people in Alabama defended the arrest of Marshae Jones after her fetus died in a shooting.]
According to a law enforcement officer with direct knowledge of the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Ms. Jones and Ms. Jemison, 23, had been feuding over a man they both worked with. The officer said that Ms. Jones spotted Ms. Jemison in the parking lot of a Dollar General store in Pleasant Grove on Dec. 4 and started fighting with her.
Ms. Jones had hit Ms. Jemison several times and pinned her in her vehicle, the officer said, when Ms. Jemison reached for a gun and fired point blank into Ms. Jones’s stomach.
The uproar over the indictment of Ms. Jones is not the first time that the application of Alabama’s fetal rights laws has attracted criticism and concern.
Alabama has prosecuted hundreds of women for using controlled substances while they are pregnant, under a 2006 “chemical endangerment” law, according to an investigation by ProPublica and Al.com. Doctors have argued that such prosecutions discourage pregnant addicts from seeking the treatment that they and their fetuses need.