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November 29, 2018

Victory in Indiana

On September 20, 2018, feticide and involuntary manslaughter charges were dismissed against Kelli Driskel. In December of 2017, Ms. Driskel went to the emergency room after experiencing a stillbirth at home. An autopsy was later performed on the fetal remains and the cause of death was determined to be placental abruption with "acute methamphetamine intoxication" listed as a contributing factor. Ms. Driskel was interviewed by the police while still hospitalized, acknowledged past substance use, and subsequently was charged with feticide, involuntary manslaughter, and possession of methamphetamines.

NAPW learned about this case as a result of our ongoing case research and documentation work, and reached out to Ms. Driskel's legal counsel. NAPW drafted a motion to dismiss for Ms. Driskel's case. Following the Bei Bei Shuai and Purvi Patel cases (two cases NAPW helped to win), Indiana clarified its laws to explicitly exclude pregnant women from prosecutions under the state's feticide and manslaughter laws. Unfortunately, this change in the law came too late for Ms. Driskel who had been charged while the old law was in effect, and our motion to dismiss was initially denied.

We persisted. Local counsel filed a second motion to reduce Ms. Driskell's bond (she had been incarcerated since her arrest). That motion was granted and counsel urged the court to reconsider the motion to dismiss. Meanwhile NAPW drafted an Open Letter to the Madison County prosecutor, asking him to drop the prosecution. Thirty-eight organizations and experts joined the letter that NAPW delivered in August. On September 20, 2018, the court granted the motion and dismissed the charges of feticide and involuntary manslaughter.