No appeal in Patel case affirms justice. State chose not to appeal ruling, affirming that the State legislature did not intend to use feticide statute to punish women for having abortions.
NEW YORK — Monday marked the deadline to appeal the Indiana Court of Appeal’s decision in favor of Purvi Patel, and with no appeal from either side, the decision is set to go into effect. Patel, an Indian American woman from Indiana, was incarcerated in 2015 when the state charged her for feticide and neglect of a dependent after she had a negative pregnancy outcome outside of a medical setting. After a jury trial in which prosecutors focused on prejudicial and irrelevant evidence, such as questioning the ethnicity of the father of her pregnancy, Patel was convicted, making her the first woman in the country to be convicted of feticide for terminating, or attempting to terminate, her own pregnancy. This week, the state relinquished its opportunity to appeal the intermediary court’s decision to the State Supreme Court. The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Deputy Director of Systems and Sustainability Leng Leng Chancey released the following statement in response:
“The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum is pleased that Indiana respected the decision in Patel’s case by choosing not to appeal the Court’s decision. We continue to stand with Patel and remain vigilant, as there is still more work to be done to ensure that no woman is punished for a pregnancy outcome.
“As it stands, AAPI women, low-income women and all women of color are at a higher risk of being punished for the outcomes of their pregnancies. Our communities already face numerous barriers in accessing healthcare and other essential rights, and AAPI women’s reproductive decision-making continues to be highly scrutinized. Lawmakers are funneling taxpayer dollars into bills that police women’s pregnancies, when they should to be expanding access to quality, affordable and culturally competent healthcare. We need to put an end to laws that amount to reproductive surveillance as such laws only obstruct the rights, health and safety of women, particularly women of color and immigrant women. By prosecuting Patel, the state is discouraging women of color, particularly AAPI women, from seeking medical care based on fear of arrest and punishment. Patel has suffered enough, and no other woman should fear similar circumstances.
“In choosing not to appeal the decision, the state has taken a step in the right direction. In keeping with well-settled legal principles and the intent of the Indiana General Assembly, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that feticide laws should not be used to prosecute women for terminating, or attempted to terminate, their own pregnancies. Yet, we are still concerned by the Court’s reluctance to fully overturn the charge of neglect of a dependent against Patel, a conviction that continues to be an egregious injustice. Purvi Patel and all women deserve to make their own reproductive decisions without fear of scrutiny or worse.
“Now, we wait as Patel faces a resentencing hearing in the upcoming weeks. This hearing will adjust her sentence to reflect the lowering in severity of the charges against her. We hope that the lower court will follow suit, and ensure Patel can be back home with her friends and family as soon as possible. We will not rest until we are assured that all women have the basic freedom and dignity to access the reproductive health care they need and deserve.”