WASHINGTON, DC –– Today, Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lynneice Washington announced that the office will no longer pursue charges against Marshae Jones –– a Black woman in Alabama who was indicted on charges of manslaughter last week after losing a pregnancy as the result of a violent interaction, during which she was shot. Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Southeast applaud his news and denounce the continued criminalization of Black women’s pregnancies.
Statement by Nia Martin-Robinson, Director of Black Leadership and Engagement, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
We are grateful that Alabama prosecutors have dropped the unjust charges against Marshae Jones, and that she had the support of her family, her lawyers, and organizations on the ground in Alabama. No one deserves to be punished for losing a pregnancy.
“We must ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Prosecuting someone for being the victim of a violent crime is not only alarming — it signals an intent to target and criminalize Black pregnant women. Laws that criminalize pregnancy are dangerous and they strip people of their right to reproductive health care and assistance that is free of state interference and criminalization. Everyone deserves autonomy over their bodies, decisions, and futures.
Statement By Staci Fox, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Southeast:
We are relieved to hear that District Attorney Washington will not prosecute Marshae Jones for the loss of her pregnancy. But it does not change the fact that in Alabama, pregnant women –– especially Black women –– are being targeted and criminalized. Marshae should never have been subjected to these charges, nor should the thousands of other women facing similar circumstances. Prosecuting women for the loss of their pregnancies is neither fair nor just. It is despicable.
Although Marshae was shot in her stomach, Alabama law enforcement instead indicted her, claiming that "the only true victim in this was the unborn baby." Despite being physically harmed and losing her pregnancy, the state did not recognize Marshae as a victim — only her fetus.
Marshae’s case is a chilling example of what we’ll continue to see if Alabama’s total and complete ban on abortion is allowed to take effect. Cases like Marshae’s open the floodgates for the police to involve themselves in what should be a health care matter. Every miscarriage could become a criminal investigation. Just like laws that criminalize miscarriages, abortion bans disregard the person who is actually pregnant. They give states more chances to target, criminalize and punish Black women. The circumstances are different but the underlying issue is the same. Nobody should be prosecuted for losing or choosing to end a pregnancy. Period.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
Planned Parenthood Southeast (PPSE) provides high-quality, affordable healthcare to women, men, and teens in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Our experienced and caring health center staff gives each client honest information and personal attention.
Our legacy began in 1930 when a Planned Parenthood affiliate was created in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1964, our Atlanta, Georgia affiliate was founded followed by our Mississippi health centers in 1989. In 2010, all three states united under name Planned Parenthood Southeast and continue our commitment to the health of women, men, and young people in the deep south.
PPSE believes in the fundamental right of each individual to have access to high-quality, non-judgmental health care and prevention-focused education regardless of the individual's income, marital status, race, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, faith identity or immigration status. Our mission is to provide comprehensive sexual health care through the provision of reproductive health services, education and advocacy.