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Appeals Court Overturns Purvi Patel Feticide Conviction

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An Indiana Appeals Court overturned the feticide conviction Friday for a woman who took abortion inducing drugs. The case was the first time a woman has been convicted of feticide for ending her own pregnancy.

Purvi Patel was 30 weeks pregnant when she took abortion inducing drugs. She delivered the pre-term fetus in her home.

Prosecutors charged her with felony feticide and neglect of a dependent resulting in death.

In her appeal, Patel argued the feticide charge wasn’t applicable because the law was intended to protect pregnant women from third parties who end a pregnancy.

The appeals court agreed with the defense, saying the law was never meant to apply to women who end their own pregnancies.

“That’s not what the feticide statue is about,” said Indiana University law professor David Orentlicher. 

He continued: “It’s about terminating pregnancies, but not about terminating them through abortion. [The feticide statute] is there because we have cases where somebody shoots a pregnant woman, attacks a pregnant woman in another way, batters a pregnant woman and causes her to miscarry.”

Carolyn Meagher from the Indiana Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice thinks the decision in this case likely sets a precedent for other similar cases.

“I think women would have been scrutinized even more by doctors and by prosecutors for any kind of poor outcome of pregnancy,” said Meagher.

Anti-abortion groups largely supported the feticide conviction

Judges upheld the conviction of neglect of a dependent, but reduced it to a class D felony.

Patel’s 20-year prison sentence is thrown out and a trial court will resentence her based on the lesser charge. The maximum prison sentence for the remaining conviction is 3 years.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is considering whether to appeal the decision.

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