Monday, April 27, 2015

Spotlight on "Fetal Homicide" Laws

On Monday, April 30th, 33-year-old Purvi Patel was sentenced by an Indiana court to 20 years in prison on charges of feticide and neglect of a dependent. She is the second woman to be charged with feticide in Indiana, and the first to be convicted.

According to Ms. Patel, she had a miscarriage in which she delivered a stillborn fetus. Suffering from heavy bleeding, she went to the emergency room, where doctors notified the police. Prosecutors alleged that she took abortion medication ordered online, then gave birth to a live fetus that subsequently died as a result of her actions.  However, a toxicologist at her trial testified that there was no trace of the medication in her bloodstream, and there was conflicting testimony as to whether or not the fetus was born alive. One of the pathologists testifying for the prosecution used a “lung float test” to determine the fetus was viable, a test that dates from the 17th century and has long been discredited.