The Dougherty County, Ga., district attorney announced Wednesday that the murder charge against a 23-year-old woman who gave birth prematurely after taking abortion pills to end her pregnancy has been dropped, the Washington Post reports.
Kenlissia Jones was slapped with charges of malice murder and possession of a dangerous drug over the weekend after giving birth in a car on the way to the hospital. She had been experiencing excruciating pain after taking the pills she bought online.
The baby was reportedly born alive but died 30 minutes later. However, District Attorney Greg Edwards acknowledged Wednesday that Georgia law doesn’t allow for a woman to be prosecuted for ending her own pregnancy.
“This morning, I dismissed that malice-murder warrant after thorough legal research by myself and my staff led to the conclusion that Georgia law presently does not permit prosecution of Ms. Jones for any alleged acts relating to the end of her pregnancy,” Edwards said. “Although third parties could be criminally prosecuted for their actions relating to an illegal abortion, as the law currently stands in Georgia, criminal prosecution of a pregnant woman for her own actions against her unborn child does not seem permitted.”
According to the Post, the charges were actually brought by the Albany, Ga., Police Department, but upon review, Edwards’ office dropped the malice-murder charge.
“The reason that we’re not prosecuting is because the law provides immunity to mothers in any act that may be committed against their unborn fetus,” Edwards added during a Wednesday press conference.
The Post notes that the 23-year-old woman, who is also the mother of a toddler under 2, has been released on her own recognizance and is still facing the misdemeanor charge for alleged possession of a dangerous drug.
Jones’ brother, Rico Riggins, and his wife received legal custody of the 20-month-old boy for the remainder of Jones’ legal procedures.
According to Riggins, his sister has always been troubled, with multiple run-ins with the law and psychological stress that has never been diagnosed. Riggins claims that Jones was most likely desperate when she took the abortion pills.
“The family is poor, so there’s not a lot of funds and everything,” Riggins said, according to the Post. “She felt like she didn’t have any money to get an abortion the legal way, and so as a result of not having money and being in a position of no resources, she ended up doing it the illegal way to not bring another child in the world … to not burden anyone else or burden herself.
“When these kids get these pills and they’re off to themselves, they don’t think about the law,” the brother added. “They don’t think about, ‘If I do it eight weeks earlier, it’s going to be legal.’ They don’t think about the ramifications of the law; they just act out.”
Read more at the Washington Post.