A Georgia mother has been charged with murder for allegedly inducing her own abortion. With clinics closing every day, welcome to our harrowing future.
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Kenlissa Jones, a 23-year old African American mother of a toddler, is now in jail facing charges of “malice murder and possession of a dangerous drug.” Her crime? Allegedly inducing her own abortion with Cytotec that she purchased online. The local district attorney is anxious to take the case to a grand jury because “Georgia and federal laws will need to be explored,” according to one local news report.
The only law really being explored, though, is what will police do when women revert back to inducing their own abortions?
When abortion opponents write legislation banning abortions under certain conditions or after specific points in gestation, they almost always add a line stating that it is the provider—not the pregnant person—who will be charged if a law is broken. But as they pass bills meant to close clinics, delay care, reduce access, and drive up costs, they turn those who cannot access a legal abortion into their own providers, seeking out a means to terminate a pregnancy despite being alone and isolated.
Now, these women are being jailed for the attempt. Jones is just the latest in a line of pregnant people facing jail for allegedly self-inducing, and her situation may be the most alarming. Unlike Purvi Patel, who was convicted under similar conditions in Indiana, Jones was reportedly on her way to a hospital when she gave birth. Her fetus—allegedly about 5 and a half months along, according to reporters—was given medical attention. Yet she is still being charged with murder.
We don’t know all of the circumstances that Jones faced when it came to her pregnancy. We don’t know how long she knew she was pregnant, if she tried to find care in a legal abortion clinic, if she had the money to travel or pay for an abortion, or many other details. What we do know is that she was from Albany, Georgia, an area of southern Georgia with no abortion clinics nearby. We know that the closest clinic in her state was an hour and a half away, and would not have been able to provide a termination after her first trimester. We know that almost every clinic in the state is located in or near Atlanta, almost three hours away from her home city. We know that an abortion will cost hundreds of dollars even in the first trimester, and that most insurances will not cover the medical procedure.
We also know that women who don’t have access to safe, legal abortion will do what they can to end a pregnancy anyway, if they are desperate enough. We know that pregnant people are trying to induce in secret. And as Jones’s situation reminds us, we know that while many will be successful, those who are not have two options—go to the hospital and potentially face a prison sentence, as well as lose the children you already have, or avoid the hospital, and maybe die.
“Pro-choice” is gone and these are the choices that are left.
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