Indiana woman Purvi Patel was arrested in 2013 on charges of feticide and felony neglect of a dependent. She went to the hospital to stop the heavy bleeding after what she said was a premature birth at her home. Patel explained that she had a miscarriage and the baby was no longer alive, so she put it in a bag and disposed of it in a dumpster on her way to the emergency room.
Hospital workers were suspicious of Patel’s story and called the cops who soon discovered the fetus in the dumpster. The woman claimed it was not alive when she left it, but that question has been up for debate in Patel’s trial for the past two years.
“I assumed because the baby was dead there was nothing to do,” the woman explained. “I’ve never been in this situation. I’ve never been pregnant before.”
Despite Patel’s insistence that she had a miscarriage and delivered a stillborn baby, she has been sentenced to 41 years in prison. According to a local news site, she was found guilty of feticide and neglect of a dependent and sentenced on Monday. The sentence includes 20 years and 10 more years suspended. She will then spend five years on probation. Six more years were added to her sentence for committing feticide, but those years will be served concurrently with the rest of her sentence.
Patel’s case has sparked outrage across the world among people who believe she truly did have a miscarriage. According to Think Progress, more than 100,000 signed a petition for Patel’s release, assuming the miscarriage was real and claiming that the charges set “a dangerous legal double standard for pregnant women suffering from mental health issues.”
One major activist defending Patel’s miscarriage claim has been Sue Ellen Braunlin, the co-president of the Indiana Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice. She claims cases like this are consistently discriminatory against women of color.
“These rights are going to be taken away first from the margins — from people of color, people who are immigrants, people who they may perceive won’t have a lot of support from the jury, and people who are easy to ‘other.’ I think that these women were probably particularly targeted.”
Despite the protests of thousands, the court decided that Patel did not have a miscarriage and found her guilty as charged. According to RH Reality Check, prosecutors presented evidence against the miscarriage claim, showing that Patel took abortifacients and that the fetus was born alive.
Patel plans to appeal the charges.
Do you think Purvi Patel truly had a miscarriage?