Feticide Charge!

For Immediate Release

August 25, 2014


The Indiana Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice is dismayed that the St. Joseph County Prosecutor has imposed new charges of feticide and neglect of a dependent against Ms. Purvi Patel based on the tragic outcome of her pregnancy. While significant medical facts are in dispute, one thing is clear: a woman sought emergency medical care because she was hemorrhaging, but got a criminal investigation and homicide charges filed against her.

St. Joseph Regional Medical Center

St. Joseph Regional Medical Center

The feticide law was intended to protect a pregnant woman from violence by a third party attacker. The law was never intended to punish a pregnant woman who has lost a pregnancy for any reason.

Medical and public health experts recognize that attaching the threat of criminal prosecution to a request for health care is dangerous and will push a woman into hiding. There is broad medical consensus that it is vital for every woman to be able to trust her doctor and be unafraid to seek help in an obstetric emergency.

Lynn Paltrow, attorney, Executive Director and founder of National Advocates for Pregnant Women points out that this prosecution is part of a trend. “Once again targeting a woman of color, prosecutors in Indiana are using this very sad situation to establish that intentional abortions as well as unintentional pregnancy losses should be punished as crimes. In the US, as a matter of constitutional law and human decency, no woman should be arrested for the outcome of her pregnancy.”

The outcome of this pregnancy was tragic. It was also tragic that Ms. Patel did not get the appropriate supportive medical care she so desperately needed. That it has become a criminal case is inappropriate, immoral, cruel and sets a dangerous new precedent. Those of us who are Christian know that when Jesus responded to the hemorrhaging woman there was no place for aggressive interrogation and punishment. It was all for healing.

Health improves for all — every mother and baby — when both are supported. Indiana already has deplorable maternal and infant mortality. We cannot afford to deter a woman from seeking reproductive health care. This case should be dropped for both Ms. Patel and for Indiana.

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