Monday, July 25, 2016
Ind. Decisions - More on: Purvi Patel feticide conviction vacated
Updating this ILB post from Friday, which included a summary of the opinion, here are some news rep[orts on the Court of Appeals' ruling:
- "Court tosses woman's feticide conviction," is a July 22nd AP story from Tom Davies, here as published in the Kokomo Tribune. Some quotes:
The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned the feticide conviction of a woman found guilty of killing her premature infant by taking abortion-inducing drugs, saying Friday the state's law wasn't intended to be used "to prosecute women for their own abortions."
The ruling comes in the case of Purvi Patel, who was convicted of neglect and feticide last year. However, the court upheld a lower-level felony neglect of a dependent conviction.
She 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.
The appeals court ruled that Patel, who is currently in state prison on the neglect and feticide convictions, should be resentenced on the lower-level felony charge, which carries a possible prison term of between six months and three years. It wasn't immediately clear how quickly that resentencing could happen and whether Patel could soon be released from prison. * * *
Two dozen women's advocacy groups, as well as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, filed friend-of-the-court briefs siding with Patel.
At least 38 states have fetal homicide laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Patel case was the first time a state feticide law was used against a woman specifically because of "an alleged self-induced abortion," said Jill Adams, executive director of the abortion-rights advocacy group Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice.
Adams said she was glad the appeals court overturned Patel's feticide conviction, but that it was still worrisome that she faced a felony neglect conviction. Adams called the prosecution a misuse of the criminal justice system.
"No person in Purvi Patel's position should have to feel threat of arrest or jail for ending their own pregnancy," she said. "That is not what these laws were put in place to do."
- "Indiana court overturns Purvi Patel feticide conviction," is a July 22nd story in the Indianapolis Star, reported by Brian Eason. Some quotes:
The Indiana Court of Appeals on Friday overturned the 2015 feticide conviction of Purvi Patel, the Northern Indiana woman whose botched, self-induced abortion became a flash point in the national debate over abortion rights.
In a 3-0 ruling, the judges said that the state feticide statute was not intended to apply to abortions, and legal experts said that — barring a successful appeal — it should give Indiana prosecutors pause before bringing similar charges against pregnant women in the future.
In its decision, the court relied heavily on how prosecutors have applied the feticide law in the past, noting that this case was an "abrupt departure" from its typical usage: cases in which a pregnant woman and her unborn child are the victims of violence.
"The state's about-face in this proceeding is unsettling, as well as untenable" under prior court precedent, Judge Terry Crone wrote in the ruling.
The court also said that because many of the state abortion laws dating tothe 1800s explicitly protect pregnant women from prosecution, it was a stretch to believe that lawmakers intended for the feticide law to be used against pregnant women who attempt to terminate a pregnancy. * * *
But even as the judges overturned the feticide and a Class A felony conviction, Friday's ruling wasn't a total victory for Patel.
It stopped short of clearing her of any criminal responsibility for what transpired on July 13, 2013, upholding a lower-level felony neglect conviction for failing to provide medical care to the baby, who medical experts testified was alive and breathing after birth.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 25, 2016 11:29 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions