Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate are stunned that police arrested a Georgia woman on murder charges after a hospital social worker told officers she terminated her pregnancy by taking abortion pills.
Kenlissia Jones, 23, was being held at the Dougherty County jail on charges of malice murder and possession of a dangerous drug.
District Attorney Greg Edwards has said he is reviewing the case but “as of right now she’s still charged”.
Jones was arrested on Saturday after a county social services worker called police to a hospital, according to an Albany police report.
A hospital social worker told police that Jones said she had taken four pills she purchased over the internet “to induce labour” because she and her boyfriend had broken up.
The social worker told police Jones went into labour and delivered the foetus in a car on the way to the hospital. The foetus did not survive.
The police report does not say how far along Jones was in her pregnancy.
WALB-TV reported earlier that authorities said Jones was about five months pregnant.
Prosecuting Jones seems at odds with Georgia case law, said Lynn Paltrow, an attorney and executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a legal group in New York.
She noted state law explicitly prohibits prosecuting women for foeticide involving their own pregnancies.
And a Georgia appeals court ruled in 1998 that a teenager whose foetus was stillborn after she shot herself in the abdomen could not be prosecuted for performing an illegal abortion. Prosecutors ended up dropping that case.
“We don’t believe there is any law in Georgia that allows for the arrest of a woman for the outcome of her pregnancy,” said Paltrow, whose group is offering free legal aid to Jones.
Jones’ grandmother, Mary Lee Jones, said she didn’t know her granddaughter was pregnant. She said her granddaughter often seems troubled and likely needs professional counselling more than jail.
“I think now, in the position she’s in, she needs to be evaluated,” Jones’ grandmother said. “She’s just not herself.”