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Outrage at manslaughter charge for Alabama woman who lost baby in shooting

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By Euronews with Reuters
Marshae Jones is shown in this booking photo in Birmingham, Alabama, US
Marshae Jones is shown in this booking photo in Birmingham, Alabama, US   -   Copyright  Jefferson County Jail/Handout via REUTERS

An Alabama woman was charged with manslaughter over the death of her unborn child after she was shot in a dispute that police said she started, local media reported.

The indictment sparked a wave of indignation among women's rights and pro-choice groups.

It comes just a month after the state of Alabama enacted the country's strictest restrictions on abortion. The new measure bans the procedure in nearly every instance, including cases of rape and incest.

Marshae Jones, 28, of Birmingham, was arrested on Wednesday after being indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury, reported.

"All indications and all the evidence points to the fact that the victim, or the mother of the unborn child, was the aggressor, and she's no longer listed as a victim," Pleasant Grove Police Lieutenant Danny Reid told WIAT television in Birmingham shortly after the December 4 shooting.

"The only victim we have here is that unborn child," Reid said.

Police blamed Jones for initiating the altercation with Ebony Jemison, which involved the father of the unborn child, and for causing Jemison to defend herself with her gun, said. The shooting occurred in Pleasant Grove, just west of Birmingham.

Initially, Jemison, 23, was charged with manslaughter but a grand jury failed to indict her, the news outlet said.

Jones was released from jail on Thursday afternoon after posting $50,000 bond, the local newspaper reported. 

Crowdfunding campaign underway

Jones' arrest was decried by women's rights groups, some of which have started a crowdfunding campaign to support her. 

The Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based advocacy group that provides financial assistance to women seeking abortions in the state, said it was committed to get Jones released from jail and to assist her with her legal representation.

"This is how people — especially women of colour — are already being punished & having their pregnancies criminalized," the national abortion fund said on Twitter.

Euronews has reached out to the county's district attorney for comment.

According to media reports, the district attorney's office has released a statement saying the recent abortion legislation played no role in the indictment and that there had been no decision as yet on whether to pursue the case against Jones.