The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned the feticide conviction of a woman found guilty of killing her premature infant by taking abortion-inducing drugs, saying Friday the state's law wasn't intended to be used "to prosecute women for their own abortions." The ruling comes in the case of Purvi Patel, who was convicted of neglect and feticide last year. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2015, two years after her self-induced abortion at her family's home. Women's advocacy groups have been heavily involved in the case, saying it marks the first time a state feticide law was used against a woman because of an alleged self-induced abortion. The court upheld a lower-level felony neglect of a dependent conviction, the AP reports.
The appeals court ruled that Patel, who is currently in state prison, should be resentenced on the lower-level felony charge, which carries a possible prison term of between six months and three years. Patel, who was 32 at the time, was arrested when she sought treatment at a local hospital for profuse bleeding after delivering a 1½-pound boy in a bathroom and putting his body in a trash bin behind her family's restaurant. Court records show she bought abortion-inducing drugs from an online pharmacy based in Hong Kong. She used the drugs because she feared her family would discover she had been impregnated by a married man, according to documents. Attorneys for Indiana argued that Patel was at least 25 weeks into her pregnancy, so her infant was just beyond the threshold of viability and took at least one breath before dying. (Read more feticide stories.)