Previously: 33 year-old Purvi Patel was arrested in Indiana on charges of feticide–an act that causes the death of a fetus.
She has been sentenced to 20 years in prison in Indiana as a result. Jennifer Chowdhury at NBC reports:
Patel is the first woman in the U.S. to be charged, convicted and sentenced on a feticide charge. Reproductive rights activists are outraged.
Patel was arrested in July 2013 after she went to the emergency room, bleeding heavily, at St. Joseph Hospital in Mishawaka, Indiana. Despite initially denying the pregnancy, Patel eventually admitted to medical authorities that she had a miscarriage and threw the stillborn fetus in a dumpster.
If you already know the story and want to help, click here to learn what you can do.
Prior to the arrest, Patel was considered an upstanding member of the community. She lived with her parents and grandparents and helped to build up a Moe’s Southwest Grill restaurant, the family business, working seven days a week and returning home to cook for her family and help take care of her grandparents. She’s a good desi girl, basically. So this jail sentence could, in essence, jeopardize her family’s ability to take care of itself as well.
The chilling part is that this medieval law in Indiana could just be a slippery slope. From The New York Times:
This is the first case I can find in which a state-level feticide law has been successfully used to punish a woman for trying to have an abortion. Women have been charged with other crimes after taking abortion pills without a prescription, but the feticide charge appears to be Indiana’s idea. It could spread, though: About 38 states have fetal homicide laws in place.
Here is a list of all 38: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin
Another excerpt from the same Times article highlights a possible trend in targeting pregnant women of color in Indiana:
Nevertheless, prosecutions like these are growing more frequent. In Indiana, before Purvi Patel, there was Bei Bei Shuai, a Chinese immigrant who tried to commit suicide while pregnant and was also charged with feticide. The charges against Shuai were dropped in 2013 after she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and spent a year in custody. In Iowa, Christine Taylor faced charges for attempted fetal homicide after falling down the stairs, going to the hospital and being reported for trying to end her pregnancy.
So what can we do for Purvi Patel? Writer Deepa Iyer has four easy, quick ways you can start enacting change.
UPDATE: You can also sign a petition demanding a full and immediate Presidential pardon of Purvi Patel here.