Purvi Patel is serving 20 years of a 46 year “feticide” sentence in Indiana over a use of pills ordered online for a self-induced abortion that left her in the hospital. Donald Trump has called for, then tried to retract his call for imprisoning women like Purvi for illegal abortions. The Susan B Anthony List and other antichoice groups have been attempting to distance themselves from Trump’s call for prison terms. On the 21st of April the Susan B Anthony List held a high-profile dinner at the Andrew Mellon Auditoriam on Constitution Ave. Outside, protesters held a vigil demanding the “walk the walk” by issuing a statement falling for Purvi Patel’s release.
Purvi Patel’s case shows that these “feticide” laws pushed by antiabortion groups do in fact put women in prison for abortion. In addition, many have cited the danger that women would be imprisoned after miscarriages if alcohol use, drug use, or even smoking or not following doctor’s advice is suspected of contributing to loss of the pregnancy. Both these situations are a strong incentive to entirely avoid medical care if pregnant. Certainly this is an incentive to avoid hospital treatment even at risk of death after complications from any self-induced abortion, out of state abortion where locally illegal-or after a miscarriage by anyone using legal or illegal drugs. Courts that have overturned such prosecutions in other states have noted that already some women are avoiding doctors entirely while pregnant for fear of criminal charges. Speaking of drugs, the burden as always will fall on the poor and on people of color. Purvi Patel is from India, and no doubt racism made it easier for prosecutors in Indiana to bring charges and get a conviction.
Feticide laws and laws governing the conduct of pregnant women are spreading like a plague, driven by “pro-life” groups that deny they intend to put women in prison. In Missisippi abortion in a (hard to find) clinic is still legal but self induced abortioh is specifically criminalized. Indiana’s case against Purvi Patel is not that state’s first offense, they also prosecuted Bei Bei Shuai in 2011 for a suicide attempt that caused a miscarriage. In Amarillo, Texas a district attorney asked doctors to report women for drug use while pregnant. Nationally over 200 women have been prosecuted for doing something while pregnant deemed bad for the fetus.A Federal report noted that some women who use drugs now deliver their babies at homes as seeking medical attention is deemed too risky given not only criminal prosecutions but civil commitment orders, loss of child custody, and other punitive sanctions,