As more and more states pass “trigger laws” designed to criminalize nearly all abortion and, in some cases, those who assist pregnant people in obtaining those abortions, one non-profit is hoping to provide legal defense funds for those being prosecuted for self-managed abortions.
A nonprofit called If/When/How announced today that it has acquired $2 million to help assist with legal bill for cases resembling those that have already taken place in over 20 states, in which people are prosecuted for “feticide” after being suspected of self-managing their own abortions, even as clinics providing abortions are becoming harder to find all over the country. According to Vice, between March 2018 and March 2020, 57,000 people in all 50 states contacted the abortion group Aid Access seeking abortion medications, widely accepted by the medical community as perfectly safe. However, If/When/How is not sure exactly how many people have been criminally prosecuted for obtaining those abortions, which a not illegal, according to Vice:
“No one knows just how many people have been prosecuted for self-managing their own abortions or helping others do so. A 2017 If/When/How report found that, since 1973, there had been at least 21 arrests for suspected self-induced abortions. These arrests can have life-shattering consequences: In 2013, an Indiana woman named Purvi Patel was accused of inducing her own abortion and later convicted of felony child neglect and feticide. She was sentenced to decades behind bars. Although an appeals court ultimately found that Indiana’s feticide law wasn’t intended to be wielded against women seeking their own abortions, the entire ordeal took up more than three years of Patel’s life.”
The group plans to conduct a more comprehensive study as it gears up to cover the cost of bail, expert witnesses, court fees, and attorney fees for those who face criminal charges for not wanting to be pregnant.