Purvi Patel, who caused the death of her preborn son through a self-induced abortion, had her conviction overturned on Friday by the Indiana Court of Appeals. Patel’s conviction had long been a rallying point for pro-abortion activists.
In 2013, Patel ordered abortion-inducing drugs from Hong Kong to self-abort her son at 25-30 weeks gestation. When she delivered him alive in the bathroom, she then wrapped him in a blanket and left him in a dumpster in a family restaurant. This is what prosecutors found when Patel was sentenced in 2015, and the feticide charge from the court applied heavily on the prosecution’s findings.
The Associated Press reported:
[Patel] was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2015, two years after her self-induced abortion at her family’s home. Women’s advocacy groups have been heavily involved in the case, saying it marks the first time a state feticide law was used against a woman because of an alleged self-induced abortion.
Patel was also found guilty of neglect.
The appeals court appears to have based its decision on the fact that the feticide law had previously only applied to “those who attacked pregnant women” and not to the women themselves:
The appeals court disagreed, saying the feticide law only had been used since it was enacted in 1979 to prosecute those who attacked pregnant women. The judges also wrote that the wording of state law on illegal abortions shows the Legislature “intended for any criminal liability to be imposed on medical personnel, not women who perform their own abortions.”
Patel endangered the child by not seeking medical care, but prosecutors failed to prove that her failure to do so resulted in the boy’s death, the court said.
Patel’s child was past viability, and studies have shown that children born even as early as 22 weeks can survive with medical intervention, so it is unclear how the child’s death could have been caused by something other than the neglect to obtain medical care.
Slate and other pro-abortion outlets have attempted to discredit methods used to determine that the child was born alive. They also pointed to their belief that the incident highlights a flaw in the pro-life view that the abortion provider should be punished, not the woman:
Patel’s case has become a major flashpoint in the abortion debate: Abortion rights activists have said that she exposed the hypocrisy and lies of an anti-abortion movement that claims to want to punish abortion providers, not abortion seekers.
In this unusual case, however, Patel was her own ‘abortion provider.’
The court stated that Patel should be re-sentenced on lower felony charges, which would carry a possible prison term of six months to three years.