Today, the state of Indiana vacated Purvi Patel’s feticide charge. She has been serving 20 years in prison after ending her pregnancy outside a medical setting in July 2013. After an appeal hearing this May, the state has at long last concluded that, “The legislature did not intend for the feticide statute to apply to women who have abortions.”
Reproaction stands with Purvi Patel and applauds the court for dropping the feticide conviction. However, the court downgraded but did not drop the felony neglect of a dependent conviction, meaning that this case will continue in another court and that she continues to serve time in prison because she did not continue a pregnancy.
From the doctor who reported her when she presented at a hospital bleeding and asking for help to the prison cell she has been forced to call home for more than a year, Purvi Patel has endured gross violations of her civil and human rights.
This case is a clear and revolting example of the way that women, particularly poor women and women of color, are unjustly criminalized on the basis of pregnancy outcomes, including but not limited to self-induced abortion. Indiana is one of 38 states that currently has a feticide law on the books, and while Purvi’s prison time is shocking, the truth is that women who do not wish to be pregnant have been put into handcuffs and faced charges in state after state after taking matters into their own hands.
The pro-life movement has remained silent in the face of the criminalization of self-induced abortion because locking women up is the logical outcome of laws it has pushed for decades. Reproaction has methodically documented and taken direct action targeting pro-life leaders who had all the time in the world to issue denials to the press after Donald Trump suggested that women who have abortions should be punished, and yet have failed to walk the walk and denounce Purvi’s unjust imprisonment.
Reproaction demands Purvi Patel’s immediate release from prison and an end to all laws that criminalize abortion and pregnancy. We call upon Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) to be pro-life for real and release her immediately. The state of Indiana owes Purvi Patel a profound apology.