SOUTH BEND, Ind. – An Indiana woman will serve 20 years in prison for what she says was a miscarriage.
On Monday, the State of Indiana sentenced 33-year-old Purvi Patel to 20 years in prison on charges of feticide, which is an act that causes the death of a fetus, and neglect of a dependent.
PRI says feticide is usually used against illegal abortion providers or people who harm pregnant women. It is a law in several states but only a few have used the laws against pregnant women.
In July 2013, Patel was arrested after she went to the emergency room.
Despite initially denying the pregnancy, Patel eventually admitted that she had a miscarriage and threw the stillborn fetus in a dumpster.
According to Sue Ellen Braunlin, doctor and co-president of the Indiana Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice, Purvi was most likely 23-24 weeks pregnant.
Prosecutors say the fetus died within seconds and charged her with child neglect.
The defense argued that Patel could not be charged with both neglecting a live baby and aborting her own fetus. However, the jury convicted her on both counts.
“What this conviction means is that anti-abortion laws will be used to punish pregnant women,” said Lynn Paltrow, executive director for National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
“Purvi Patel’s conviction amounts to punishment for having a miscarriage and then seeking medical care, something that no woman should worry would lead to jail time,” said Deepa Lyer.
Patel is the first woman to be sentenced under Indiana’s feticide laws but she isn’t the first woman to be charged.
In 2011, Bei Bei Shuai was held in prison for a year before feticide charges against her were dropped as part of a plea deal.
Shuai was reportedly suffering from depression and tried to commit suicide while pregnant. She survived but the fetus did not.