Ind. Court of Appeals overturns Purvi Patel feticide conviction

The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned the feticide conviction of Purvi Patel, who was found guilty of feticide and neglect of a dependent after putting her infant's body in a dumpster in July 2013.

That means that not only will Patel face fewer years in prison, but her case will also serve as the precedent for future feticide rulings in Indiana. Previously, it was unclear to whom the feticide statue applies and which cases are exceptions.

“The appellate courts have now told us that based on their interpretations of other portions of the statues, that it was their belief that the legislature did not intend to include the expectant mother in the feticide law,” said Ken Cotter, St. Joseph County Prosecutor.

Patel, who was 35 years old at the time, purchased and ingested abortion-inducing drugs from an online pharmacy in June 2013. She delivered a live baby in her home approximately twenty-five to thirty weeks gestation and the baby died shortly after birth.

Judges Vaidik, Bailey and Crone heard the arguments in court.

Patel was convicted on both counts in February 2015 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison on the neglect charge, with 10 years suspended, and 6 years on the feticide charge, to be served concurrently.

Patel appealed the conviction in April 2015.

Patel appealed in an argument that her neglect of a dependent conviction should be overturned because it isn’t supported by sufficient evidence. She argued that the feticide conviction should be overturned because it is unconstitutional or does not apply to her.

The State has decided that they presented sufficient evidence for a jury to find that Patel was aware that the baby was born alive and she knowingly endangered the infant when she did not provide medical care.

However the State says they did not successfully prove that the baby would have survived if Patel did provide medical care, so Patel’s class A felony is now being instructed to enter judgment of conviction for class D felony neglect of a dependent, instead. Sentencing for this conviction will be done accordingly by the judge.

The feticide conviction was vacated for Patel after the State said the legislature did not intend for it to apply to illegal abortions, and it wasn’t to be used to prosecute women for their own abortions.

Still, some of Patel's advocates argue that the entire situation could have been avoided if the community had been more supportive.

“The biggest question is why didn’t Purvi feel supported enough to get the medical care that she needed…I think more of this blame needs to fall on our community, and we should be doing something about it,” said Noel Spring, the Community Engagement Coordinator for Pro-Choice South Bend.

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