The indictment of Marshae Jones is part of a larger trend of states criminalizing women for unintended pregnancy outcomes

In December, 28-year-old Marshae Jones saw a woman she didn’t like, Ebony Jemison, in the parking lot of a Dollar General in Pleasant Grove, Alabama, and confronted her. The fight turned physical, and Jemison shot Jones, who was five months pregnant, in the stomach. Jones was rushed to a hospital. She survived, but lost her pregnancy. The fetus had been struck by a bullet.

Yet a grand jury indicted Jones – not Jemison – for manslaughter. Under Alabama law a fetus has the same rights as a living person, and the grand jury ruled that Jones had an obligation to avoid anything that could potentially cause harm to her pregnancy, like making herself available to be shot.

Related: The US right’s concern for the foetus doesn’t survive the trip down the birth canal | Emer O’Toole

Moira Donegan is a Guardian US columnist

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