NAPW Decries Purvi Patel's Sentence of 41 Years
First Conviction and Sentence for the Crime of Feticide
Because a Woman Sought to Terminate Her Own Pregnancy
South Bend, Indiana: Today, a St. Joseph County judge sentenced Purvi Patel to 41 years for the crimes of feticide and neglect of a dependent (Patel will serve 20 of the 41 years in prison). While Patel consistently maintained that she experienced a miscarriage, prosecutors claimed that she attempted to terminate her own pregnancy but gave birth to a baby who she then neglected and allowed to die. Today's sentence followed from the court's decision to allow Indiana's feticide law to be used as a mechanism for prosecuting women who attempt to terminate a pregnancy and from the prosecution's use of discredited and invalid scientific testimony to persuade the jury that the baby had been born alive.
National Advocates for Pregnant Women Executive Director Lynn Paltrow expressed deep disappointment at the extreme sentence: "While no woman should face criminal charges for having an abortion or experiencing a pregnancy loss, the cruel length of this sentence confirms that feticide and other measures promoted by anti-abortion organizations are intended to punish not protect women."
Ms. Patel is not the first woman in the U.S. to have been arrested and charged with a crime for terminating her own pregnancy or based on allegations that she had attempted to do so. This case, however, is the first time any woman has been charged, convicted, and sentenced for the crime of feticide for having attempted to end her own pregnancy.
NAPW has been supporting local leaders and activists, including those at the Indiana Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice who have been attending Ms. Patel's trial and sentencing and communicating with her and her family to share our concern and support.
NAPW filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief on behalf of advocates for maternal, fetal & child health, and reproductive justice organizations, urging the trial court to dismiss the feticide charge against Ms. Patel. (The trial court denied Ms. Patel's motion to dismiss, and refused to accept the amicus brief from experts).
NAPW spoke out against the conviction: Purvi Patel Conviction Contradicts "Pro-Life" Claims of 'Protecting, Not Punishing' Women.
And NAPW is making sure the world knows what this prosecution, conviction, and extreme sentence means and the unprecedented violations of civil rights, human rights, and human decency it represents:
Lynn Paltrow, "How Indiana is Making it Possible to Jail Women for Having Abortions," Public Eye Magazine
Farah Diaz-Tello & Laura Huss, "It Is All Too Easy for Pregnant Women To Be Put on Trial in the United States," RH Reality Check
NAPW needs your support to help overturn this outrageous conviction and cruel sentence.
You can also contribute to the Purvi Patel Family Support Fund. (Apna Ghar, an organization that works across immigrant communities to end gender violence, started this fund to help Ms. Patel's family. Ms. Patel was the family's primary source of support and provided essential care for her aging grandparents.)
And you can call Indiana Governor Mike Pence, (317) 232-4567, and tell him that neither discrimination against L.G.B.T.Q. people nor punishment of pregnant women are acceptable.