The Indiana Appeals Court has overturned the feticide conviction for Purvi Patel, an Indiana woman who took abortion drugs after an unintended pregnancy.
In the decision, the judges chose to vacate the class A felony conviction of neglect of a dependent and feticide, but instructs the trial court to resentence Patel for the lesser charge of class D felony neglect of a dependent. That carries a maximum prison sentence of three years.
What you need to know about the Patel case:
In July, 2013, Patel delivered an extremely preterm fetus alone in her home and went to the hospital because of excessive bleeding.
Police found the body of the preemie where Patel told them she disposed of it. Prosecutors charged her with feticide for taking the abortion drugs and neglect resulting in the death of a dependent.
Patel appealed the 20-year prison sentence in October, 2015.
“Given that the legislature decriminalized abortion with respect to pregnant women only two years before it enacted the feticide statute, we conclude that the legislature never intended the feticide statute to apply to pregnant women,” the court doc says.
As Carolyn Meagher from the Indiana Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice says, the decision in this case likely sets a precedent for other similar cases.
“I think women would have been scrutinized even more by doctors and by prosecutors for any kind of poor outcome of pregnancy,” Meagher says.
See the complete court ruling below.