Why Is This Woman Facing The Death Penalty For Having An Abortion?

In today's bleaker-than-bleak news, a 23-year-old American woman has been charged with murder after taking abortion pills that she purchased on the internet

Wherever you stand on the abortion debate, recent events in America are so depressing, protesters both for and against a woman’s right to choose are wringing their hands in distress.

On Saturday night, 23-year-old Kenlissa Jones took four pills that she’d bought online. The mother of one had broken up with her boyfriend, and according to her grandmother, had seemed out of sorts and ‘just not herself’. But the pills were Cytotec – an abortion drug which is only safe to use in the first trimester of pregnancy. Kenlissa was reportedly five and a half months pregnant – and although she called her neighbour and asked to be driven to the nearest hospital, she gave birth to a fetus on her way there, and it died thirty minutes later. Kenlissa was promptly charged with ‘malice murder’ – a charge that can be punishable in the state of Georgia by death.

Now campaigners are desperately trying to help Kenlissa before it’s too late. Lynn Paltrow, the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, says that the law specifically prohibits the prosecution of women for feticide.

‘We don’t believe there is any law in Georgia that allows for the arrest of a woman for the outcome of her pregnancy,’ she explains – adding that she’s offering free legal aid to Kenlissa.

And even Genevieve Wilson, who runs local anti-abortion group, Georgia Right to Life, says that this is the first time she’s heard of anything like this situation. ‘I am very surprised by the arrest,’ she said, as the news of Kenlissa’s charge broke. ‘And I’m thinking that perhaps whoever made the arrest may not have known what the laws really are.’

But while the lawyers on either side of the case prepare their arguments, one thing isn’t up for debate: Kenlissa Jones was desperate, and needed professional help. If abortion clinics and counselling had been available to her, she wouldn’t have been pushed to take such heartbreakingly extreme measures to end her pregnancy. And regardless of whether you’re pro or anti abortion, this is a story without a happy ending.

Picture posed by model.

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