According to NBC News, an Indiana woman has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for neglecting a dependent and six years for feticide.
“Feticide” is defined as the act of causing the death of a fetus. Purvi Patel was charged with the criminal neglect of inducing a miscarriage at home two years ago during her second trimester. The sentences are to be carried out concurrently.
Patel’s case was a complicated one because it was hard to determine if the baby was dead before birth or shortly after birth. She admitted to throwing the baby’s body in a dumpster before going to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center because of severe bleeding. Hospital staff thought something was strange when the 33-year-old woman arrived with an umbilical cord still attached to her body, and there was no baby. After Patel admitted what she had done, she was arrested.
According to Christianity Today, Patel’s case is the first of is kind in the country. It was reported that the woman hid her pregnancy from her strict Hindu parents. In July of 2013, when she gave birth, she claimed the baby was stillborn.
Even though prosecutors claimed Patel ordered abortion-inducing drugs online, a toxicology report didn’t find evidence of drugs in her system. The jury deliberated on whether she miscarried and disrespected the body by throwing it into a dumpster or if her miscarriage was the result of her taking abortion-inducing drugs. However, the jury believed that she did ingest the drugs, and Patel was convicted of feticide. The jury also convicted her of child neglect since the baby was allegedly born alive and Patel made no attempt to save it.
In the United States, most crimes of violence are covered by state law, not federal law. Thirty-eight states have feticide laws and LifeNews has reported that Patel was sentenced because she lived in Indiana, which is one of those states where feticide is illegal. She would not have been convicted of feticide if she lived in a state where feticide was not illegal, or if she had miscarried with the assistance of an abortionist. Feticide laws do not apply to legally induced abortions, but since Patel did this at home without the assistant of a doctor, she was found guilty.
Patel is getting a lot of support on Facebook. Even so, prosecutors stand by their ruling that the feticide and child neglect charges are warranted, and the two crimes are not contradictory.
[Image via Robert Franklin/AP}