A prosecutor in Georgia prosecutor announced on Wednesday that he had dismissed murder charges against a 23-year-old woman accused of inducing an abortion by taking pills.
The Associated Press reported that Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards had said in statement that Kenlissia Jones had been released from jail. However, she still faced a charge of dangerous drug possession.
“Georgia law presently does not permit prosecution of Ms. Jones for any alleged acts related to the end of her pregnancy,” the statement said.
The decision to charge Ms Jones with murder had stunned both abortion-rights advocates and opponents alike. Georgia has prohibited the prosecution of women for foeticide or for performing illegal abortions in cases involving their own pregnancies.
Ms Jones was arrested Saturday. 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 labor 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.
Lynn Paltrow, an attorney and executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a legal group in New York, noted that state law explicitly prohibits prosecuting women for foeticide involving their own pregnancies.
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.
Genevieve Wilson, a director of the anti-abortion group Georgia Right to Life, said this was the first time she has heard of a woman in Georgia facing a murder charge for ending her pregnancy.
She agreed with Paltrow that foeticide and abortion laws in the state have not been used to target women who end their own pregnancies.
“I am very surprised by the arrest,” she said. “And I’m thinking that perhaps whoever made the arrest may not have known what the laws really are.”