Purvi Patel found guilty of feticide and child neglect over unborn baby’s death

Apr 1, 2015

Photograph: Robert Franklin, AP

By Nicky Woolf

Purvi Patel, the 33-year-old woman charged with feticide and child neglect over the death of her unborn child, has been found guilty of all counts by a jury in Indiana.

She was convicted of using abortion drugs that she bought online to terminate her pregnancy, and then also of child neglect once the child was born.

The court heard how Patel kept her pregnancy secret from her parents, who are strict Hindus. Her father testified that he taught the principle of no sex before marriage.

According to local CBS affiliate WSBT, Patel has said that the baby was already dead when it was born, that she tried to revive it, and that she didn’t call 911 because she was in shock.

Court documents show that Patel then went to the St Joseph hospital in Mishawaka, Indiana, bleeding from her vagina. She at first denied having given birth, but told medical staff later that she had delivered a still-born child at home, and had placed the body in a dumpster.

Kathrine Jack, an attorney who has followed the case closely, said that the verdict “sends a message to pregnant women in Indiana that if they have still-birth, or miscarriage, or in some cases seek an abortion they could be criminally investigating and charged for fetucide.”


Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

25 comments on “Purvi Patel found guilty of feticide and child neglect over unborn baby’s death

  • If she did use abortion drugs one question that springs to mind is why didn’t she just get a legal abortion? (They are still legal in the US, even in virtual theocratic states like Indiana) My guess is the answer is come combination of she couldn’t afford it (e.g., if she is on disability or some other government program they won’t cover abortion) or due to the various “make abortion as hard to get as possible” laws the nearest provider was too far away to be practical.

    In any case this is an insane decision and IMO we will see more of this in the US in the future not less. There also seems to be a contradiction in the conviction. “Feticide” I think means you “killed” your fetus after it was past the age where an abortion is legal. “Child neglect” means you neglected or abused your child. It seems to me you can’t logically be convicted of both, if she “killed” her fetus it is dead and was never a child so can’t be neglected. I’m not a lawyer though so could be wrong but I hope this case gets picked up by the ACLU or some women’s rights group and they appeal the verdict.

    More and more I think of the quote “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members” people like this women deserve some basic help from the state and instead we waste hundreds of thousands of dollars putting her on trial and sending her to jail to rot and to learn how to become a criminal.



    Report abuse

  • 2
    Miserablegit says:

    Once again the state of Indiana decides to use dubious religious laws to bully the vulnerable. I very much doubt that purvi Patel will be the last case.



    Report abuse

  • seems to be a contradiction in the conviction

    You are correct. Weasels must have found a loop-hole, or vague language, to finagle this charge.

    treats its most vulnerable members

    Anger stirs every time I read of a girl or woman being criminalized with reproductive issues. Unless one is pregnant under less than stellar circumstances, they’ve no idea at all what it is like.



    Report abuse

  • It is obviously stupid to try an abortion yourself, but why is it considered that much more illegal that getting one from a doctor? It belongs in the “jackass” category, not the criminal category. I presume her motive was preventing authorities from notifying her parents. She is 33. Surely she has a right to privacy.



    Report abuse

  • Red Dog Apr 1, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    If she did use abortion drugs one question that springs to mind is why didn’t she just get a legal abortion? (They are still legal in the US, even in virtual theocratic states like Indiana)

    As well as a difficult situation with her parents, there is a question about attitude and availability of providers.

    @OP – Court documents show that Patel then went to the St Joseph hospital.

    http://www.sjmed.com/our-mission

    SAINT JOSEPH Regional Medical Center
    Our Mission
    We serve together in Trinity Health
    In the spirit of the Gospel
    To heal body, mind and spirit
    To improve the health of our communities
    And to steward the resources entrusted to us.

    Our Vision
    Guided by our faith-based traditions, we will provide exceptional health care to all we serve

    This has the look of a Catholic or evangelical establishment, which could well be anti-abortion.



    Report abuse

  • Some people believe that infanticide is a rare abhorrent criminal event but they are mistaken. Humans have a long deep relationship with infanticide and there are known factors that can predict when this is likely to occur. Teens who have no family support are at greatest risk. Although this woman is in her 30’s, she may fit the type in that she comes from a culture that does its damn best to keep their daughters in a childlike state of dependency and helplessness. Her father states that he made it clear to her that premarital sex would not be allowed. She’s 33 years old! What a no-win situation for her. I feel very sad that she had no one in the world to help her out of a real jam. Those parents should be ashamed of their OWN role in this, not that their 33 year old daughter wants to live like a normally functioning adult and engage in sexual behavior! I wish they were on trial for harassment and coercion. They could be holding their own grandchild right now if they weren’t obsessed with tribal shame. These cases of desperate infanticide come up on the news with some regularity. These women are victims. Their own families and societies have failed them. They need help not jail time.



    Report abuse

  • @OP link – The two charges that Patel now faces – the initial count of neglect of a dependent, and the new charge of feticide – appear to be legally contradictory. Under Indiana law, a woman can only be convicted of neglecting a dependent if it can be proved that she gave birth to a live baby.

    By contrast, feticide requires the baby to have been born dead. Its definition in Indiana law is that the woman “knowingly or intentionally terminates a human pregnancy with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus”.

    Asked about this apparent contradiction, Patel’s lawyer, Jeffrey Sanford, said: “I don’t think the state can prove a live birth.”

    This shambolic set of charges, suggests that the courts are as incompetent as the prosecutors, but reality and wish-thinker “interpretations” are very different items.

    What chance did she have, with nutty strict Hindu parents, a “Gospel hospital”, a legal prosecution service which proceeds to court contradicting itself. and is then not told by the judge that the case is adjourned or dropped, while the prosecution gets its legal position sorted out ??!!

    Purvi Patel, the 33-year-old woman charged with feticide and child neglect over the death of her unborn child, has been found guilty of all counts by a jury in Indiana.

    I suppose, with a faith infected jury, lacking competent legal direction, nobody thinks they need to bother with evidence or procedure! – especially if they don’t think she has energy or funds to appeal to a higher court!

    Time for some philanthropist or women’s organisation to kick butt!



    Report abuse

  • Patel’s case is indeed tragic and apparently discloses the acts of a deeply disturbed, emotionally abused woman who should be held minimally responsible. By any reasonable judgment, however, she is technically guilty of feticide and possibly killing a newborn human being. The fact that the fetus/child came out of her own belly establishes the facts of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Mitigating circumstances implied in her back story demand limiting her sentence to counseling, education and facilitated access in the future to family planning services including contraceptives and abortion.

    In my view, progressive secular societies should not only “respect” women’s reproductive rights by ‘allowing” access to contraception and ‘tolerating” elective abortion but also promote abortion as a positive choice for women who don’t want to carry an early pregnancy to term. If women (and men) are conditioned in the pragmatic ethics of responsible family planning to distinguish between wanted and unwanted pregnancies and take proactive measures accordingly, then humankind will be the better for it.



    Report abuse

  • Once again, religious/superstitious stupidity raises its vile head.

    The Royal Free Hospital in London has a policy of not revealing the gender of a foetus for this very reason; although I don’t understand how anyone could commit such a crime against humanity within the confines of a hospital.

    Another example of intimidation? In that the reason for such a policy not being highlighted is fear of causing offence?

    We only found out about it because our twin daughters were born at the Royal Free; the wonderful Royal Free!

    That a woman should do such a thing catches the breath: “It takes good people to do good things, and bad people to do bad things, but for good people to do bad things takes religion.”.



    Report abuse

  • I’m afraid I’ve made a serious mistake with my comment about this case; I apologize for not having read the article fully and jumping to a conclusion.

    Thank you for your petition phil, which I will certainly sign, in the hope that it’ll go some way to making amends for my lack of vigilance.



    Report abuse

  • jumping to a conclusion…

    The thing I love about this place is that changing your mind in the light of evidence is painless. I’ve clunked way more and known my stock only rises in declaring my change of heart.

    Woe betide the politician who accidentally finds new evidence…



    Report abuse

  • 19
    Robert says:

    Odd and sets a risky precedent. Still, I wonder how far along foetal development was (I don’t see either article mentioning that). If the foetus was expelled (born alive) and neglected after reaching the age of viability, I’d say there’s grounds for handling this as infant negligence or w/e.

    If she terminated her pregnancy within the range of the typical ‘choice’ period (~12 weeks), I’d say the charge of ‘feticide’ is pretty absurd.

    The cap for abortions in the UK is 24 weeks. Apparently the vast majority of abortions are performed long before then (and most 2nd trimester abortions are a consequence of health issues). Still, the idea of leaving it that late on a whim doesn’t sit right with me (maybe because I don’t know all the science of brain and sensory development by trimester).



    Report abuse

  • 20
    Susan Dax says:

    Yes, it is very likely (I can’t say proven without the evidence that she took the drugs and/or that the child could have been born alive) that she is guilty of either killing a foetus or killing a child. But she was convicted of BOTH, which should be impossible. Proving that the jury was not rational, and should not have been in charge of anyone’s future. Otherwise I agree with you.



    Report abuse

  • “the verdict sends a message to pregnant women in Indiana that if they have still-birth, or miscarriage, or in some cases seek an abortion they could be criminally investigating and charged for fetucide”

    Actually, it probably sends a stronger message to just move somewhere else …



    Report abuse

  • So let me get this straight…a lady premeditates a murder, sets up a 7 month pregnant woman on Craigslist, cuts the baby out of her stomach, baby dies, and they don’t charge HER with murder?? How did this happen? She obviously didn’t know what to do was scared her parents strict Hindus probably would have disowned her. I mean there has to be more of the story she could have been raped that’s why she was going to great lengths to conceal or abort this pregnancy. This is SO sad.



    Report abuse

  • Our leaders and judges are like children. In this case it’s Lord of the Flies.

    At any rate a fetus is a baby. Still can’t charge someone twice for the same crime.



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.