Convicted last year in April in an abortion case for breaking Indiana’s feticide law, Purvi Patel walked free on Thursday, post the conviction judgement being overturned earlier in August, as reported by Indystar. She has already served a few months in jail and the judge asked for an immediate release for Patel.
She was accompanied by her relatives as she left the Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis. Though she is happy that she is free now, but the sentence has affected Patel very deeply. So she now needs privacy to rebuild her life, said her attorney Lawrence Marshall, as reported by Indystar.
“For right now, she needs to recover from what is obviously a traumatic several years,” said Marshall, a Stanford University law professor. “She has to take her life and try to make something meaningful out of all the wreckage that got her here.”
Patel was convicted for allegedly taking abortion-inducing drugs which led to the death of her premature infant baby. She was sentenced to 20 years in jail for the crime. She had appealed to the court that she had a miscarriage and the baby was already dead inside her, but the Indiana Court of Appeals convicted her nonetheless. It is only now the the court has vacated her conviction on the grounds that the law does not contend that women be prosecuted for their own abortions.
The appeals court later decided that she should be convicted on a lower-level child neglect case for three-years, which was further reduced to 18 months of sentence by the St. Joseph County this week.
Patel was arrested in 2013 when she consulted a doctor for profuse bleeding. But this was opposed by the prosecutors who presented that Patel had taken drugs to abort the child from the internet and she gave birth to a boy in Granger, a community northeast of South Bend at her family’s home. They also alleged that the infant took a breath before dying which proves that she actually killed her own child. And she got rid of the dead body by throwing it in the dustbin at the back of her family restaurant.
Patel’s attorney argued that the allegations put on Patel by the prosecutors bear no reality and that she was only 10-12 weeks into pregnancy. The state prosecutors then put forth the argument that the state law only applies to the pregnant woman and not anyone else. However, the appeals court rejected it and said that the 1979 law was passed to convict people who attacked the pregnant woman and not the pregnant woman herself.
Women’s group from Indiana stated that Patel’s was the first case ever where the woman was arrested for consuming drugs for abortion.