In July, Purvi Patel’s controversial 2015 feticide conviction was overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals. The court vacated Patel’s original 20-year sentence for feticide and felony child neglect and instead sentenced her to a lesser felony that carries a three-year sentence. At the time of the appeals court’s decision, the state of Indiana signaled that it would likely appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court, a decision they have reconsidered. The deadline for the state to appeal to the higher court was on Monday without the state filing a request.
The Associated Press reports that Patel’s lawyer said that he was pleased with the state’s decision not to appeal and indicated that Patel could likely be freed from prison in the near future. Larry Marshall, Patel’s lawyer, told the AP that the appeals court’s decision to overturn the original conviction was “really unassailable.” “I’m very pleased the state didn’t drag things out just for the sake of dragging things out,” he added.
In a statement, Indiana Attorney General said that after reviewing the evidence, “further appeal would not be productive and that resolving the case now will serve the interests of justice.”
Now that Patel’s feticide conviction has been officially overturned, Patel will have a new sentencing hearing. The AP reports:
If that judge sentences Patel to the maximum three years, Marshall said she actually would face an 18-month sentence because of credit for good behavior.
Under that sentence, Patel could potentially be released as early as late September because she has already served about 17 months, Marshall said.
“We’re hoping for a speedy resentencing and for Purvi’s speedy release,” he said.
Patel, now 35, was arrested in 2013 after she went to the hospital for profuse bleeding. While receiving treatment, she acknowledged that she had given birth to a 24-week-old stillborn at home and disposed of its body. After it was discovered that she purchased abortifacients online, the state charged her with feticide. Toxicology reports found no trace of the drugs in either her body or the fetus’ body.
The state prosecuted Patel under a 1979 law that had previously been used to prosecute those accused of attacking a pregnant woman. The Indiana Court of Appeals called the state’s prosecution an “abrupt departure” from the law’s intended and historic use. “The state’s about-face in this proceeding is unsettling, as well as untenable,” the court wrote in its ruling.
Though Patel’s ordeal is close to over, her case is a disturbing reminder that the ideology of “protecting women”—the familiar cri de coeur of anti-choice legislation—can easily be used as a bludgeon against them.