SUPPORTING PURVI PATEL

September 1 Update

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum celebrates release of Purvi Patel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2016
Contact: Amy Lebowitz, Camino PR
amy@caminopr.com / 212.255.2575

NEW YORK — Today, Purvi Patel was released from prison. Patel, an Indian American woman from Indiana, was incarcerated in 2015 when the state charged her with feticide and neglect of a dependent after she had a negative pregnancy outcome outside of a medical setting. Prosecutors during trial concentrated on her alleged use of medication abortion at home and questioned the ethnicity of the father of her pregnancy, making Patel the first woman in the country to be convicted of feticide for terminating, or attempting to terminate, her own pregnancy. The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Executive Director Miriam Yeung released the following statement upon Patel’s release:

“The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum celebrates Purvi Patel’s release. A multiracial, multiethnic, multifaith coalition of local and national activists — especially South Asian American organizations, feminist, reproductive rights, health and justice groups, and a team of prescient attorneys — came together to #FreePurvi.

“Thousands of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum activists from around the country have rallied, educated their community members, signed petitions, court-watched, and poured their heart and souls into our campaign to free Purvi Patel because each of us can see ourselves in her story.

“Purvi’s sentence was reduced from 20 years to 18 months over the course of her trial and appeal. Though Purvi is thankfully free today, we still believe that the ‘neglect of dependent’ charge against her should have also been overturned in her appeal, along with that of feticide. The State had no actual evidence of ‘neglect of a dependent,’ but instead used Purvi’s efforts to terminate her pregnancy and abortion stigma to win a conviction on that charge.

“Because Purvi has already served the amount of time required for her 18 month sentence for the unjust neglect charge, she was rightfully released today.

“Despite efforts by state prosecutors to punish Purvi Patel her for seeking an abortion, the court delivered a clear message that feticide laws are not meant to punish women for having abortions. Along the lines of 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 attempting to terminate, their own pregnancies.

“Even though Purvi Patel is free, our work is not over. AAPI women, low-income women and all women are stigmatized for their abortion decisions. And our communities face numerous barriers in accessing health care and other essential rights. AAPI women’s reproductive decision-making continues to be highly scrutinized. By prosecuting Patel, the State has already discouraged women of color, particularly AAPI women and immigrant women, from seeking medical care based on fear of arrest and punishment. Patel has suffered a great injustice, and no other woman should be jailed for the outcome of her pregnancy.

“Purvi Patel should never have been jailed in the first place. 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.”

 

August 25 Update

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2016
Contact: Amy Lebowitz, Camino PR
212.255.2575 / amy@caminopr.com

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.”

August 11 Update

Progress for Purvi Patel, but Targeting of Women of Color Continues

July 2016 Update

Last Friday, the courts made the correct decision for Purvi Patel. The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned Patel’s conviction for feticide, ruling that the Indiana General Assembly never intended to criminalize women who have abortions.

Although the neglect of a dependent conviction still stands, it has been downgraded to a Class D felony, which shortens her original 20 year sentence, making her eligible to be considered for release.

We and other allies in this movement believe that this was a positive outcome and what the court was supposed to do: interpret the law. Now, we must remain vigilant for Purvi and our community. This decision supports the fact that women should not be prosecuted for their pregnancy outcomes. But because it still has a chance of being appealed by the state, there is still so much work to be done.

Purvi has suffered enough as a result of scrutiny on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community & our reproductive choices. Rather than dedicating our scarce resources to the policing of women’s pregnancies, lawmakers should expand access to quality, affordable, and culturally competent health care. Laws that impose surveillance on women’s pregnancies only contribute to barriers to health services and basic rights for women, especially for the 30,000 AAPI women of reproductive age in Indiana.

Please continue to send your love and good thoughts to Purvi and her family. NAPAWF will not rest until Purvi Patel and all women are free to make our own reproductive decisions, raise our families, and live with dignity.

 

May 2016 Update

Purvi Patel has already spent more than a year in prison. Now that the Indiana Court of Appeals will hear her case, she needs our support more than ever.

3 Easy Ways to Take Action!

  1. Click here to receive updates from NAPAWF about Purvi Patel and share on social media about why this matters or that you stand with Purvi, using #FreePurvi.
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  3. Become a member of NAPAWF to strengthen the fight for social justice for AAPI women and girls!

Her Case

On March 30, 2015, Purvi Patel became the first woman ever to be sent to jail for terminating her own pregnancy. Under Indiana law, she was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.

FreePurvi_NAPAWF

In 2013, Purvi went to an emergency room in South Bend, Indiana seeking treatment for heavy vaginal bleeding. She told doctors she miscarried and the child had not survived. A few hours after arriving in the hospital, her attending doctor, a member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called the police. When they arrived, officers interrogated Purvi while she was still in her hospital bed and put her under arrest.

Purvi was later convicted of contradictory charges: “feticide” and “neglect of a dependent.” The state of Indiana alleges that Purvi committed feticide by taking medication to terminate her pregnancy, which is not a crime in the state. Moreover, feticide charges are meant to apply to third parties who cause pregnancy loss, such as violent partners, not pregnant women themselves. The state alleges Purvi committed child neglect because she delivered a baby prosecutors claim was born alive and abandoned. However, the baby would in fact have been very premature and possibly nonviable. The supposed evidence shown to argue this latter charge was a “float test” which was discredited by the medical community over a century ago. Patel is currently imprisoned, sentenced to more than 20 years.

In this tragic case, Indiana law passed to protect pregnant women is being used to criminalize pregnant women by punishing them for abortion and other pregnancy outcomes. This case means women can be imprisoned not only for abortion, but also for miscarriages and home births where the child is born but does not survive. Laws that criminalize pregnant women like the one that sent Purvi to jail are increasingly common in the U.S., with feticide laws on the books in at least 38 states. Pregnant women in Indiana – and across the country – now could be at risk of being prosecuted for the outcomes of their pregnancies.

These laws are disproportionately enforced against women of color. A study of arrests and forced interventions on pregnant women found that approximately 71 percent were low-income women, 59 percent were women of color.

At NAPAWF, we are deeply concerned about the racial stereotyping that may have played a role in how Purvi was treated. Purvi was the first woman to be convicted of feticide in Indiana, but she was not the first to be charged. The only other woman charged with feticide in Indiana was Bei Bei Shuai, also an Asian American woman. Asian women in particular may have been targeted by this law because of negative stereotypes. In the anti-choice movement, Asian women are seen as having a predeliction for abortion. At the hospital, police demanded to know over and over whether “the father” was Indian, and there was an anti-Asian sex-selective abortion ban being debated in Indiana at the time of Purvi’s sentencing.

Purvi’s case is currently being considered by the Indiana Court of Appeals and she has the support of a host of public health and medical experts, women’s and reproductive freedom advocates, and the Asian American civil rights community.

 

Press Release

September 1, 2016, “National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum celebrates release of Purvi Patel”

July 22, 2016, “National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum applauds court decision to vacate Purvi Patel’s feticide conviction”

October 2, 2015, “National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum denounces the growing imprisonment of women for their pregnancy outcomes”

Legal Brief

Purvi Patel v. State of Indiana (Cause No. 71A04-1504-CR-00166): Brief of Amici Curiae National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and Center of Reproductive Rights and Justice at the University of CAlifornia, Berkeley, School of Law, et. al.

Articles/Radio

June 3, 2016, Nimra Chowdhry and Lisa K. Sangoi, NBC News,Puvi Patel’s Case Is Part of an ‘Unjust Pattern’

November 4, 2015, Miriam Yeung, Washington Post, “How Asian American women became the target of anti-abortion activism

April 9, 2015, Shivana Jorawar, APEX Express (94.1 KPFA), “APEX Express: Purvi Patel, Mauna Kea, and Marshall Islands – April 9, 2015

April 3, 2105, Shivana Jorawar, The American Prospect, “Miscarriage of Justice: Asian American Women Targeted–and All Women Threatened–by Feticide Laws Like Indiana’s

February 2, 2015, Deepa Iyer & Miriam Yeung, RH Reality Check, “Purvi Patel Isn’t the First Woman of Color to Have Her Pregnancy Put on Trial in Indiana

Media Hits

August 25, 2016, India West, State Will Not Appeal Overturned Feticide Conviction of Purvi Patel; Indian American Woman May Be Freed from Prison Next Month

August 1, 2016, Workers World, Partial victory for reproductive justice in Indiana

July 26, 2016, Color Lines, ICYMI: Purvi Patel’s Feticide Conviction Overturned

July 25, 2016, India West, Purvi Patel Will Continue to Serve Time in Prison, Despite Overturn of Conviction of Feticide for Self-Induced Abortion

July 25, 2016, NBC News,Advocates Applaud Indiana Reversal on Purvi Patel Feticide Case

July 26, 2016, The Establishment, Purvi Patel’s Reduced ‘Feticide’ Sentence Is A Victory—But Not Enough

July 24, 2016, TJC Junior College, Indiana Drops Murder Charge Against Woman For Her Abortion

May 26, 2016, Huffington Post, The Medical Community Must Come to the Defense of Purvi Patel

May 23, 2016, MSNBC, Appeal for Indiana woman convicted for having an abortion

May 6, 2016, Diya TV, “Indian American Purvi Patel’s Case Could Prove Pivotal for Reproductive Rights of Women

May 5, 2016, India.com, “Purvi Patel’s Feticide Case has Huge Implications for Reproductive Rights of Women in the US”

May 2, 2016, The American Bazaar, “Purvi Patel’s ‘feticide’ case has huge implications for reproductive rights of women in the US

April 13, 2016, Huffpost, “Purvi Patel’s Case Casts a Long Shadow One Year Later

April 10, 2016, BuzzFeed, “Could I Have Been Jailed For My Miscarriage?

April 6, 2015, Kajal, “On Purvi Patel

January 12, 2016, India.com, “State Responds to Purvi Patel’s Appeal on 20-Year Sentence for Feticide and Neglect

November 5, 2015, Women in the World, “Asian American women’s reproductive rights are being targeted, says advocate

October 2, 2015, Amy Gastelum, Public Radio International (PRI), “Purvi Patel’s legal team attacks evidence behind her controversial conviction for feticide, child neglect

April 10, 2015, Chaya Babu, Rediff.com, “This has NEVER happened before”

April 1, 2015, Emily Bazelon, New York Times, “Purvi Patel Could Be Just the Beginning

April 3, 2105, Shivana Jorawar, The American Prospect, “Miscarriage of Justice: Asian American Women Targeted–and All Women Threatened–by Feticide Laws Like Indiana’s

April 2, 2015, Irin Carmon, MSNBC, “How Indiana’s Pregnancy Law Targets Women

Spring 2015, Deepa Iyer and Gaylynn Burroughs, Ms. Magazine, “Indiana Injustice

March 31, 2015, Jennifer Chowdhury, NBC News, “Indiana Sentences Purvi Patel to 20 Years for Feticide

March 17, 2015, Reappropriate, “Why are feticide laws disproportionately criminalizing pregnant women of colour?