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Court To Hear Indo-American Woman’s Appeal Of Foeticide Conviction

INDIANAPOLIS – Attorneys for an Indo-American woman found guilty of killing the premature infant she delivered after ingesting abortion-inducing drugs will ask an appeals court on Tuesday to throw out the convictions that led to her 20-year prison sentence.

At issue is Indiana’s feticide law, which the defence says was “passed to protect pregnant women from violence” that could harm their developing foetus, not to prosecute women for their own abortions. The state argues that the law “is not limited to third-party actors” and can apply to pregnant women.

Attorneys for 35-year-old Purvi Patel will urge the Indiana Court of Appeals to reverse her 2015 convictions on charges of feticide and neglect of a dependent resulting in death.

The state’s attorney general’s office will defend the northern Indiana jury’s decision.

Patel, of Granger, was arrested in July 2013 after she sought treatment at a local hospital for profuse bleeding after delivering a one-and-a-half-pound infant boy and putting his body in a trash bin behind her family’s restaurant.

Court records show Patel purchased abortion-inducing drugs online through a pharmacy in Hong Kong, took those drugs and delivered a premature baby in her home bathroom.

Patel lived with her parents and grandparents, and she feared her family would discover she had been impregnated by a married man, according to court documents.

Patel’s attorneys contend her convictions are not supported by the evidence and that the laws prosecutors used don’t apply to her alleged actions in the child’s premature delivery.

Two dozen women’s advocacy groups, as well as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, all have 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. But the Patel case was the first time a state feticide law has been used against a woman specifically because of “an alleged self-induced abortion,” said Jill E Adams, executive director of the abortion rights advocacy group Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice.

“Prosecutors have been very creative and very egregious, stretching far beyond the letter of the law and even the legislative intent behind the law,” she said of efforts by prosecutors in some states to use a variety of laws to criminalize self-induced abortions.

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