Indiana Woman Faces 20 Years In Prison After Being Found Guilty Of Feticide

by Hannah Baxter

For the first time in the U.S. a woman has been found guilty of feticide and is facing 20 years in prison. A jury convicted Indiana resident Purvi Patel, 33, of felony child neglect in addition to the feticide charge for the death of her second trimester fetus.

In July 2013, Patel entered the emergency room of St. Joseph Hospital in Mishawaka, Indiana, with heavy vaginal bleeding. Although she initially denied it, she later told the hospital staff that she had suffered a miscarriage and placed the stillborn fetus in a dumpster.

The two charges seemingly contradict one another, since feticide implies a death and child neglect indicates a living person. St. Joseph County prosecutor, Ken Cotter, explained to Slate, that, “according to Indiana law, a person can be guilty of feticide even if the fetus in question survives, as long as a deliberate attempt was made to ‘terminate’ the pregnancy,” with an exception for legally obtained abortions.

The prosecution found evidence that Patel intended to kill the fetus by taking pills she bought online, although a toxicology report did not reveal any drugs in her system at the time of the miscarriage. There is also conflicting information regarding whether or not the fetus was alive at the time of the birth and if Patel took further steps to end its life.

Despite the paradoxical indictments, Patel was found guilty on both counts and will serve 20 of her initial 30-year-sentence for the felony neglect, with a six-year-sentence served concurrently for the feticide.

Lynn Paltrow, Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, stated to NBC News, “What this conviction means is that anti-abortion laws will be used to punish pregnant women.” Other reproductive rights activists are similarly concerned about whether or not women will begin to forgo seeking medical attention for fear of arrest or jail time in the event of a miscarriage. This landmark conviction is just the latest in what appears to be the growing criminalization of pregnant women. 


image c/o: Metro UK 

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