An Indian-origin woman in Indiana has been found guilty of feticide and child neglect after she was convicted of using abortion drugs to terminate her pregnancy.
Purvi Patel, 33, is facing up to 70 years in prison for both charges under Indiana’s strict feticide and child neglect.
Prosecutors said that she had hidden the pregnancy from her strict Hindu parents.
Court documents reveal that Patel had bought medication online to terminate her pregnancy before admitting herself to a hospital in the city of South Bend, suffering from severe vaginal bleeding.
Patel reportedly told doctors that she had miscarried and had thrown the fetus in a dumpster.
After receiving treatment at the hospital, doctors handed Patel over to police who arrested her after finding text messages indicating that she had bought the medication online to terminate the pregnancy herself.
In court, Patel maintained that the baby was dead when it was born but she didn’t call emergency services because she was in shock.
The prosecution’s case had rested on whether the baby was alive or still-born at birth.
Patel was found guilty despite contradictory medical evidence with the prosecution’s expert ruling that the infant was alive at birth and a defence witness declaring that the 24-week-old fetus could not have been “viable” and would not have survived outside the womb.
Women’s rights activists claim that the state’s child neglect and feticide laws are being used to target pregnant women who are unable to get a legal abortion.
Although abortion was made legal across the United States in 1973, individual states are allowed to interpret the law according to local sensibilities.
In conservative Indiana, abortion facilities are extremely limited and the entire process is governed by stringent regulations.
One campaigner told an Indiana TV station that Patel’s guilty verdicts are baseless because a baby needs to have been born alive in order for the child neglect charge to be proved while feticide would have required the fetus to have died inside the womb – neither of which occurred in Patel’s case.
Patel will be sentenced on 6 March.