If Indiana had not courted enough controversy already with the controversial anti-LGBT “Religious Freedom” law, the state is now about to imprison a woman for the death of her baby after an attempted abortion. On Monday, a judge sentenced Purvi Patel, a 33-year-old woman from a conservative Hindu family, to 20 years in prison on charges of feticide and neglect of a dependent. Patel who was afraid to disclose her pregnancy to her parents, purchased abortion-inducing drugs online. According to prosecutors, she took those drugs toward the end of her second trimester, but they did not work and she ended up giving birth. She then abandoned the baby in a dumpster. Critics of the verdict point out that the test a pathologist used to determine the fetus was alive at birth is considered outdated and unreliable. Moreover, many have pointed out that the charges the state brought are inherently contradictory, as Patel is being charged with both “fetal murder of an unborn child” as well as giving birth to a baby whom she then neglected. According to activists, this case highlights the way prosecutors across the U.S. are increasingly using laws designed to protect pregnant women and target illegal abortion clinics, to actually punish those women if they miscarry, have stillbirths, or try to terminate their own pregnancies. Patel, who is expected to appeal the sentence, is the first woman to be convicted under Indiana’s feticide law.
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