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How Anti-Abortion Laws Criminalize Black Women

June 12, 2015

On Saturday, 23-year-old Kenlissa Jones of Albany, Georgia was arrested and held without bond at the Dougherty County jail on charges of “malice murder” and “possession of a dangerous drug” for self-inducing her own abortion. Jones reportedly told a hospital social worker that she had taken four Cytotec pills, also known as misoprostol, which she purchased on the Internet from Canada. Cytotec is safe and commonly used for first trimester medication abortions. The social worker later called local police to report Jones and she was subsequently arrested. The police report says Jones went into labor while in the car and delivered the fetus en route to the hospital. The fetus was pronounced dead 30 minutes after arrival.

While the police report does not state Jones’ gestational age, a local news outlet has reported that authorities claim Jones was around 22 weeks. Current law in Georgia requires that abortions after 12 weeks must be performed in a licensed hospital, ambulatory surgical center, or abortion facility. In 2012, the state passed a law banning abortion after 20 weeks, however the law is currently held up in the courts due to an injunction. The landmark abortion case, Roe v. Wade guarantees the constitutional right to an abortion up to viability, determined to be around 24 weeks. This morning, District Attorney Greg Edwards issued a statement dropping the murder charge against Jones, after three days in jail. Jones still faces the misdemeanor “possession of a dangerous drug” charge.


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