Indiana Police Preliminarily Charge Woman With Feticide

Read more of our articles on the Purvi Patel case here.

Police arrested Indiana woman Purvi Patel Monday on a preliminary charge of feticide, which under Indiana law is defined as “a person who knowingly or intentionally terminates a human pregnancy with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus.” Traditionally, feticide charges aren’t filed against the person who had been pregnant, though Indiana has set a precedent for arresting such a person for feticide in one other case.

Patel arrived at a Mishawaka hospital Saturday needing post-delivery medical care, but did not have an infant with her. When staff questioned Patel, she provided investigators with information that led them to a dumpster, where the body of a fetus was discovered, according to the South Bend Tribune.

Although preliminary charges have been filed against Patel, investigators have said they do not yet know if the fetus was alive at birth or if it was stillborn, and have tests pending to determine which was the case. Also pending is a toxicology report on the fetus. Details, such as gestational age, have not been released.

Feticide in Indiana is a Class B felony, and a conviction could carry a six-to-20-year prison sentence for Patel. Indiana has shown precedent for arresting pregnant individuals for feticide in the case of Bei Bei Shuai, a Chinese immigrant who was charged with murder after she ingested rat poison as part of a suicide attempt in early 2011. Shuai gave birth to a premature baby soon after her attempt, and when the baby died a few days later, Shuai was charged with murder and held for over a year without bail. Shuai will finally go to trial on September 3.

Proving intent to terminate a pregnancy can be difficult for prosecutors, however. When Idaho’s Jennie Linn McCormack was charged with unlawful termination, the case was eventually dropped because prosecutors could not prove that the fetus discovered by authorities died as a result of McCormack’s actions, despite McCormack admitting she did take medication meant to induce a miscarriage. New Yorker Yaribely Almonte was also charged with illegal abortion, and, after an inconclusive autopsy report, the charges were dropped in that case as well.

Prosecutors have 48 hours from the time of Patel’s arrest to formally charge her.

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  • fiona64

    I attended university in Indiana. It was one of the most backward places I’d ever been, sadly enough. I will be the first to admit that I have not read enough about any of these cases to determine their merits, but the idea that a woman who miscarries is being charged with feticide is absurd. Will the Indiana police now consider all women who have periods to be in violation of the law, since more than half of zygotes never implant?

    • Anna Marie

      Well there’s more to the story & I think she should charged she showed up at the hospital for post delivery care but didn’t have a baby with her she initially lied about where the baby was said the baby was at home with her family it wasn’t until more questioning she finally told them where the baby was she wrapped the baby in a shopping bag & put the baby in a dumpster behind her families restaurant

      • fiona64

        Well, unless and until they prove that the fetus was delivered alive, I think it’s an overreach.

        /response to run-on sentence from Hades …

        • Valde

          And here I thought MY grammar and sentence structure was bad!

          Reading Marbo’s drivel also gave me a headache!

      • Pam Mason

        From where are you getting this information?

      • QueenJane

        That is the story I am hearing, too, via The South Bend Tribune and WNDU news, so I am not understanding the down votes. (Full disclosure, I grew up in this town and had some classes with this person in high school). She went to the hospital in Mishawaka post-delivery and the doctors were worried about her. She later indicated that the fetus was in a dumpster behind the franchise restaurant she owns with her brother. People are being very quick to politicize this when, in reality, none of us know all the details.

        • Arekushieru

          Seriously? I can still politicize the hell out of this. The fact that people want us to step back and see both sides of the story before we make any rash judgments, is evidence that this NEEDS to be politicized. When people ask me to weigh both sides of the story, they are asking me to blame the victim, essentially. The victim, because, like you, and Roxanne, I don’t believe there SHOULD be such a law on the books in the first place because it PUNISHED the accused (whereas in the case of Zimmerman and Martin the laws protected the accused) . Whether or NOT the allegations are proven true, no one, ESPECIALLY one who is a victim of arbitrary laws, should be disbelieved. The onus is on the court/jury to declare guilt. Not us. That’s why, even though the term (at least in the US. I live in Canada, after all), “Innocent until proven guilty” is coded for the justice system, it behooves US to believe in one’s innocence over guilt, as well.

  • HeilMary1

    In case my moderated comment gets filtered as spam:
    Yeah! — I dare fetal idolaters to arrest that big abortion provider up in the sky!

  • Holly Hayes

    Wait, so, I don’t understand. Did she give birth and kill her baby? Or did she miscarry? Or did she induce abortion?

    • Anna Marie

      All he details are not yet released as they are waiting on further testing to determine if the baby was alive or stillborn but she gave birth then wrapped the baby in a shopping bag & dumped the baby in a dumpster behind her families restaurant.. rather the baby was alive or dead its just so sad horrible & disgusting that she just dumped the baby in a dumpster i

      • Arekushieru

        Anna, you DON’T know her situation. That’s another reason why stating that we should get both sides of the story before we begin politicizing this, is so egregious. Because you still DON’T know both sides of the story. The woman could have been faced with threats of death if she ended/continued her pregnancy. Maybe her family was Pro-Life. Maybe others would have stigmatized and shamed her, for continuing/terminating the pregnancy. Many women in these situations develop adverse mental conditions, that can exacerbate the situation. Which is why these laws are so bogus. They just stigmatize and shame women further just for being women. Stigmatize and shame her for deciding to have an abortion, then stigmatize and shame her for her mental distress that came about as a RESULT of her pregnancy. Yep, that sounds like Pro-‘Life’.

        • Valde

          I’ve heard pro-lifers say that women should get the death penalty for improperly disposing of a stillborn fetus..

          It’s just wtf?

          They really take the fetal idolatry a tad too far. It’s like, if the woman doesn’t bow down and worship the fetus, they think she is a stain up on the earth, and that that stain should be punished and removed.

    • Roxanne Sheldon Coffelt

      They don’t bother to wait to find out the case of death, they are charging her anyway. If the baby was stillborn of some sort of natural causes, the most they could get her on would be something like improper disposal of a body. To jump the gun and charge her before they have the facts is a stupid waste of taxpayer money, but then, that’s Indiana for you.

      • QueenJane

        They have released the details and the charges have been changed to neglect of a dependent since an autopsy determined that the infant breathed.

  • 80mgsProzac

    God, the Almighty, does more abortions than any abortion procedure. Usually one out of four blastocysts abort naturally. One of God’s ways of correction an error. Legal abort must be available to every woman who they will go to back alleys, or if rich, a couple of spa vacation days where you fit the procedure in like you would a massage. I have a feeling this young woman did not have easy access to a legal abortion. Is there a waiting period? Where are the abortion clinics. . Even though I am as barren as the Mojave desert I will fight with all my right for the woman to make a choice. And finally you can’t “cide” a fetus because it does not exist without the person from whom it is parasitically existing.

    • QueenJane

      There are abortion clinics in South Bend (literally a few minutes from Granger/Mishawaka).

  • QueenJane

    It looks like if I post a comment with a link to updates on this story it will be deleted as spam, so please go to the South Bend Tribune or WNDU to see updates on what really happened in this case.

  • Holly Hayes

    But even if she did order a drug to abort her baby, like.. why is that bad or illegal, unless you’re pro-life? Why is abortion okay when a doctor does it, but when a woman does it herself, then it’s illegal? It doesn’t make any sense to me. And since the baby was born so prematurely (28-30 weeks, it said), then it’s entirely possible that it took a breath and then just died. I really don’t see how this could be anything other than a self-induced abortion.