Appeals court panel hears arguments in Indiana feticide case

By Dave Andrusko

Purvi Patel

Purvi Patel

Following a Monday hearing, there is no timetable for when a three-judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals will rule on a request to overturn Purvi Patel’s 2015 conviction for feticide and child neglect.

Last year St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Hurley sentenced Patel to 20 years in prison for throwing her live-born newborn son into a dumpster following a chemically-induced abortion.

According to Christian Sheckler, writing for the South Bend Tribune, “[B]oth sides at times drew pointed questions from the judges.

The two questions Sheckler quotes speak volumes.

As we posted yesterday, over the weekend, an Associated Press story reported

Patel’s appeal also contends she should not have been convicted of neglect, arguing prosecutors failed to prove she knew she had delivered a live baby or that she could have done anything to save its life. It argues that summoning medical help would have been “futile,” citing a forensic pathologist’s testimony that the infant likely would have died within about a minute.

Yesterday Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik, according to Schekler, “challenged [one of Patel’s attorney’s] argument that Patel could not have saved the baby by calling for medical help.”

“If someone has cancer and only has hours to live and someone shoots them, that person is guilty of murder,” Vaidik said. “You don’t say, ‘oh, he only had five hours to live.’ That’s what I’m struggling with.”

By contrast, Judge L. Mark Bailey

pressed [Indiana Deputy Attorney General Ellen] Meilaender on the use of the feticide statute against a woman for her own illegal abortion, likening the case to charging a pregnant woman with a crime for using alcohol and tobacco.

“A pack of cigarettes a day or a fifth of whiskey a day — what are we going to start prosecuting?” Bailey asked.

Thus, according to Judge Bailey, there is no distinction between ordering chemical abortifacients from Hong Kong, ingesting them, delivering a live baby 25-30 weeks old, dumping his corpse in a dumpster, and going to a hospital where you lie about what had happened and smoking a pack of Marlboros.

As previously reported by NRL News Today, at last year’s trial, St. Joseph County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mark Roule said Patel could have sought help for her baby, “but instead betrayed a victim who was wholly dependent on her,” according to Sheckler. “His only chance at survival was his mother,” Roule said. “In this case, the mother did nothing, left him on the floor to die and threw him in the trash.”

And covering the second day of the trial ,WSBT’s Kelli Stopczynski tweeted

  • Jurors saw pictures of baby outside the dumpster where police found it. Purvi Patel appeared to cry
  • Baby was lying on its side, where a doc placed it after it was found. Had full head of hair, arms, legs, ears and nose. Jurors appeared stoic
  • Defense attny tried to get pictures removed from evidence before trial, arguing they weren’t necessary and would evoke emotion.

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