Indicting a pregnant woman for manslaughter when someone else shoots her fetus is next-level Handmaid's Tale B.S.
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It's only been a handful of weeks since Alabama legislators signed into law a bill that criminalizes almost all abortions and a mere couple of months since an Alabama judge heard a case in which a fetus was legally recognized as a co-plaintiff in a "wrongful death" abortion suit.

Opponents warned of the dangerous precedent being set because of what such legal actions could mean for miscarriage or other fetal deaths. Now we're seeing that precedent being played out in real time.

Here's the story:

Marshae Jones, 27, was five months pregnant in December of 2018 when she got into an altercation with Ebony Jemison, 23. The two were allegedly fighting over the father of Jones's baby.

Jones initiated the fight—that part of the story is not in dispute. During the fight, Jemison, reportedly in an act of self-defense, pulled out her gun and shot Jones in the stomach, resulting in the baby in utero's death.

Jemison, the shooter, was not indicted. A grand jury found she was acting in self-defense.


Instead, Jones—the pregnant woman—was indicted for manslaughter. Not assault for fighting with Jemison, but manslaughter for the death of her own fetus.

Just to reiterate, an unarmed, 5-month pregnant woman was shot in the stomach after getting into a fight, lost her baby, and she's the one who was indicted for manslaughter.

That is seriously messed up, Alabama.

But what's even more messed up are the number of people I've seen defending this ruling. "She shouldn't have started a fight," people say. "When you're pregnant, the safety of your baby should be your first priority." "She was being irresponsible and putting her baby at risk."

Here's the problem with those arguments:

There are a million things that can go wrong in a pregnancy without a pregnant person ever doing a darn thing. And there are accidents that can affect a pregnancy without there being any malicious or negligent intent whatsoever. When we start to hold pregnant women legally responsible for the viability of their pregnancies, we start down a terrifying path.


What about the mom who wears socks while walking down her wood steps, slips and falls, and loses her pregnancy? Will she be indicted for manslaughter because of her reckless behavior of wearing socks on a slippery floor?

What about the mom who eats some brie not knowing there's any risk for pregnant women, gets listeria, and loses her baby? Will she be indicted for negligent homicide?

What about the mom who is in an abusive relationship and is too afraid to leave? If her partner beats her up and the baby dies, does she get indicted for manslaughter because she stayed?

What about the mom who gets into a fight with her husband and he shoots her in the stomach? Imagine indicting the mother for manslaughter in that scenario.

How about the mom who keeps getting pregnant despite having multiple miscarriages? Will she be indicted for losing those pregnancies because she knows her body might not be a safe place for a baby?

What's super scary is that I think there are people out there who would answer yes to some or all of those questions. Even if you believe an embryo or fetus is a full-fledged human being deserving of the same rights and liberties as everyone else, making pregnant women legally culpable when they lose a pregnancy, either by accident or at the hands of another person, is asinine.

This indictment should scare the crap out of all of us. No one forced Jemison to fire that gun. She can claim self-defense and avoid being indicted herself, and that's fine. Charge Jones with assault; that's fine too. But to indict a pregnant woman for manslaughter because someone else shot her in the stomach? No. That's just a slippery slope into Handmaid's Tale levels of control over pregnant women that I simply can't comprehend.


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Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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