Purvi Patel’s 41-year sentence for contradictory charges is a glaring reminder of the fact that abortion’s legal status in the United States does not mean prosecutions for pregnancy loss can’t happen here.
Patel received a six-year sentence on the feticide charge, but that will be served concurrently with the 20-year sentence. She will spend five years on probation when she is released from prison.
Jurors deliberated for less than five hours before finding Purvi Patel guilty of both feticide and felony neglect of a dependent.
Although feticide laws were originally intended to protect pregnant women from violence, such statutes are now being used to punish them, sending the message that women who do not have healthy pregnancies may be investigated for criminal acts.
The story of Purvi Patel’s prosecution, and the others lining up behind her, paint a bleak picture of life under the state’s ultra-conservative Republican reign and give a frightening look of what’s to come as increasingly draconian abortion restrictions force pregnant people to turn to other, sometimes illegal and often dangerous, means.
The El Salvador national legislature had the opportunity on January 16 to pardon a woman named Guadalupe, who was convicted of aggravated homicide against her newborn when, in fact, she had suffered obstetrical complications. Her petition fell one vote short of approval, but the story isn’t over.
When determining whether to pardon the Salvadoran women incarcerated on abortion-related charges, the country’s National Criminology Council gave “unfavorable” recommendations for 12 of them based on factors such as “scarce economic resources.”
North Dakota voters on Tuesday rejected a ballot measure to amend the state constitution to define life as beginning at conception. A similar so-called personhood amendment was defeated in Colorado as well.
A leading supporter of Colorado’s “personhood” amendment disputes a Fox News story reporting that she believes the amendment could make criminals of women.
If Colorado expands the definition of “person” and “child” in its criminal code to include “unborn human beings,” the results would be especially devastating for Latina women and other women of color.