Woman is sentenced to 20 years in prison for feticide after death of baby

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 09 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1895
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

The case of the first US woman to be imprisoned over a charge of feticide has drawn harsh criticism from women’s groups across the United States, who said that laws supposedly intended to target illegal abortion providers were increasingly being used to target pregnant women themselves.

Purvi Patel, 33, of South Bend, Indiana, was sentenced to serve 20 years, plus 10 suspended, for child neglect and a concurrent six years for feticide. The charges attracted media criticism for being contradictory, seeming to accuse Patel simultaneously of aborting a fetus and abandoning a live birth. But prosecutors successfully argued that Indiana’s feticide law could still be applied if the fetus survived, so long as an attempt at feticide was made.

Patel presented herself last July at the local …

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