Free at last

Woman whose feticide conviction was overturned released from prison

Purvi Patel (Twitter).

Purvi Patel, a 35-year-old Indiana woman, walked out of prison on Thursday a free woman after a judge ordered her immediate release. Patel, whose case had captured international news coverage, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of feticide last year. She had used drugs purchased on the internet to cause a self-induced abortion in 2013. Prosecutors said she was 25 weeks into her pregnancy — the legal threshold in Indiana after which a pregnancy must be carried to term — at the time of the abortion. Patel suffered severe bleeding after inducing the abortion and went to the hospital to seek medical treatment, where she was eventually arrested. Prosecutors said Patel had disposed of the fetus in a restaurant dumpster, but the fetus — or premature baby as the legal argument went — took a single breath before dying. Lawyers for Patel had argued that the state’s feticide law was being exploited in the case, and that it actually was meant to protect women from domestic violence. Many had advocated for her release, noting that it was the first time Indiana’s feticide law had been used to convict a woman for a self-abortion.

An appellate court, however, disagreed, and overturned the verdict last month. On Thursday, a judge sentenced Patel to time already served for the remaining child neglect charge, and ordered her release. Patel’s attorney, Lawrence Marshall, said Patel was “very, very joyful that this day has come” and that she was ready to focus on rebuilding her life. “For right now, she needs to recover from what is obviously a traumatic several years,”  Marshall said. “She has to take her life and try to make something meaningful out of all the wreckage that got her here.” Supporters celebrated her release on social media with a photo of a content looking Patel ready to rejoin society after a harrowing ordeal.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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