Appeals Court Overturns ‘Feticide’ Conviction of Woman Who Threw Newborn in Trash

PatelINDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — An appeals court has overturned the feticide conviction of an Indiana woman who was sentenced to 20 years behind bars after she allegedly threw her newborn baby in the trash.

As previously reported, in 2013, then 31-year-old Purvi Patel went to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Mishawaka with heavy bleeding and a umbilical cord hanging from her body after giving birth.

She initially denied being pregnant, but later told investigators that she had found out just three weeks prior that she was with child. Patel had been having an affair with a co-worker.

As her Hindu family is against premarital sex, Patel said that she panicked when she began to go into labor and left the baby in a dumpster behind a local shopping center because she “didn’t know what else to do.” She claimed that the baby was stillborn and that she had attempted to revive the child, although she later admitted that she didn’t want her parents to know that she had been having sex and became pregnant.

“[You didn’t want them to know] about the encounter, or about tonight?” a detective asked her.

“All of it,” she replied.

When the case went to court, prosecutors contended that the child, who is estimated to be between 25 to 30 weeks gestation, was born alive and that Patel left the baby to die.

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While toxicology reports came up negative for abortion-inducing drugs at the time of the investigation, Dr. Kelly McGuire, who examined Patel and the baby retrieved from the dumpster, told the court earlier last year that the baby could have survived following birth and a medical examiner testified that the baby passed a “floating test,” indicating that he or she could have been breathing following their birth.

Patel was declared guilty of feticide and neglect of a dependent and sentenced to 20 years behind bars.

But Patel’s attorneys appealed the conviction, and received support from groups like Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. It was argued that there was insufficient evidence that the child had been born alive, but prosecutors noted that doctors had testified at trial that the baby’s heart was likely beating when he or she was born and could have taken a breath.

On Friday, an appeals court overturned Patel’s feticide conviction, as it opined that the Indiana legislature never intended the feticide statute to apply to abortions. The law, the panel ruled, rather “intended for any criminal liability to be imposed on medical personnel, not women who perform their own abortions.”

“Given that the legislature decriminalized abortion with respect to pregnant women only two years before it enacted the feticide statute, we conclude that the legislature never intended the feticide statute to apply to pregnant women,” the court’s decision outlined. “Therefore, we vacate Patel’s feticide conviction.”

However, the panel concluded that prosecutors provided ample proof that the baby had been born alive, although it agreed with the defense that the child might have survived anyway. It reduced her child neglect conviction from a class A to a class D.

Patel will be resentenced at a later time.

Abortion advocacy groups were still upset about the development, as the National Network of Abortion Funds opined in a statement, “People of color are bearing the brunt of unscientific laws and misplaced moral outrage against abortion, which is blurring into the territory of miscarriage, putting any pregnant person at risk of prosecution and incarceration.”


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  • WorldGoneCrazy

    It would seem to be the height of misogyny to say that a woman who kills her child is too weak or incompetent to be held responsible for it.

    If her boyfriend, or another male, had thrown the child into the trash, what would he have been convicted of?

    • Ambulance Chaser

      Then it’s a good thing no one is asserting that

  • TheBottomline4This

    She should be charged with murder. But in this heartless society an innocent child doesn’t’ stand a chance against their heartless, inhumane Mother if she is intent on protecting herself.
    People like this should be forced to get fixed so they can’t have any more children. Does that seem harsh to you? It’s not as harsh as murdering a child.

  • LadyInChrist♥BlessedBeTheLord

    She murdered her baby. She should be charged with murder. It seems as though some feel it is okay to murder your children 🙁

  • axelbeingcivil

    There’s some dispute in this case over whether the child was stillborn or born alive. If the child was stillborn, what she did was… Disquieting, and definitely illegal, but not murder. If the child was born alive, what she did was… Well, if it was past the point of viability, it was criminal negligence causing death. If it was before it, I still find it disquieting but it’s legal under Indiana law to refuse resuscitation for pre-viability fetuses.

    Problem is, there’s not much evidence in favour of the claim the child was born past the point of viability. At about 23 weeks of development, the lungs are rarely sufficiently developed for a child to be able to breathe; they’re too small and just do not produce enough surfactant to properly function. Some premature births do allow the child to survive but this is assuming the best possible conditions and I do mean the absolute best. Even then, survival is rare; something like less than 1 in 5 make it when delivered in a hospital environment. That’s not what happened here.

    The child Ms. Patel delivered was about 12 inches long and weighed about 1.5 pounds (I’m rounding in both cases there). That is well within the range of early 23 weeks levels of growth according to the average fetal growth curves, which are very well established. That’s what the defense’s pathologist attested to as a developmental stage; that is what the size of the lungs attests to. That, combined with the severe exsanguination suffered by both mother and child, indicates strongly that this was a heavily premature birth that suffered from a bleed and was most likely stillborn.

    The prosecution, meanwhile, received testimony from Doctor Kelly McGuire, a member of the American Association of Pro-Life OB/GYNs, rather than requesting the skills of a pediatrician who would have significantly more skill at a post-birth assessment. Likewise, the prosecution also attested that the child was born alive by using the float test; a discredited method that examines whether the lungs of the deceased float or not as indication of breathing. However, decomposing tissue releases gases, meaning that this test has a very high false positive rate; well beyond acceptable bounds.

    So while what she did was disquieting and probably illegal – at the very least, disposal of biohazardous material should be done properly – it probably wasn’t anything resembling murder or criminal negligence. The child was too young to breathe on its own and had severe blood loss. It probably exsanguinated before it even saw the light of day. Tragic, but… It happens.

    • TheBottomline4This

      I stopped reading your blabbing when I came across the word “fetuses” at the end of the first paragraph.
      Not sure why you even bothered posting here. You are probably pro-choice and thus your opinion on this matter is irrelevant really.

      • axelbeingcivil

        You don’t even have to remotely agree or disagree with me on the matter of abortion (which I’ve not actually stated my position on here) for this to be important. The evidence suggests that this was a stillbirth; a miscarriage. If that is the case, Patel played no part in the child’s death and, thus, overturning this conviction is the right thing to do.

        I posted this because people deserve all the information. They should make an informed decision about this. That’s my motto in all things.

        • Oboehner

          No need to state your position, the pro-death stench permeates this entire page. The child even if stillborn perhaps would have lived if given the proper medical attention when this “mother of the year” first found out she was pregnant. She is most definitely responsible for the baby’s death, the court just let a murderer go free.

          • axelbeingcivil

            And you base that on what? Do you know what the developmental difficulty was that caused the miscarriage?

            Pregnancy is a messy process; miscarriages are common. Given the amount of blood loss, this could easily have been a placental hemorrhage, in which case no amount of pre-screening could have likely detected or prevented it.

          • Oboehner

            Did the murderous mother bother to check into any “developmental difficulty” or did she just utilize a dumpster? Was there any difficulties? The remarks made by doctors indicate otherwise, making excuses for the murder doesn’t change the guilt.

          • axelbeingcivil

            You might want to clarify what you’re saying here. By all accounts, this was a spontaneous miscarriage and a stillbirth. Are you suggesting a woman should be convicted of murder for a stillbirth?

          • Oboehner

            Soooo… you (or anyone else) can tell me with certainty that the baby’s death could not have been avoided with proper care? Didn’t think so, it was a negligent homicide, “by all accounts” the baby took breaths before death.

          • axelbeingcivil

            Actually, not “by all accounts”; that was testimony given by the prosecution’s pathologist, who based it off the discredited float test. A defense pathologist testified to insufficient development.

            The prosecution pathologist also testified the child was at 30 weeks of development, which, if that were the case, would make this one of the least developed infants on record, because at 30 weeks, weight is uually double that recorded for this.

            As for certainty, no-one can give you absolute certainty on anything, but we can talk about what is most probable and what has been established with reasonable doubt. In this case, that it was a premature birth that couldn’t have been rescued is where the evidence points.

          • Oboehner

            Soooo… you (or anyone else) can tell me with certainty that the baby’s death could not have been avoided with proper care? Didn’t think so, it was a negligent homicide.

          • axelbeingcivil

            First, that’s not how the legal system works. The burden of proof lays with the prosecution; they have to show it’s more likely that the child was (a) born alive, (b) evidently so, and (c) able to receive care.

            Second, negligent homicide requires the death to be ruled negligent. You have to demonstrate that she had the understanding and opportunity to act otherwise. If the child was very obviously alive – moving, squirming, crying – then you’d have a case. But the prosecution hasn’t been able to credibly demonstrate that and the defense has produced far stronger evidence in favour of the opposite.

            Innocent until proven guilty, chummer.

          • Oboehner

            Did the baby receive care? No.
            Soooo… you (or anyone else) can tell me with certainty that the baby’s death could not have been avoided with proper care? Didn’t think so, it was a negligent homicide.

          • axelbeingcivil

            Again, not how the legal system works, me chummer. It’s up to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that death could not have been avoided, not for the defense to prove that it could.

          • Oboehner

            Did the baby receive care? No. Simple negligent homicide.

        • TheBottomline4This

          You view is wrong. She should be charged. And yes, it’s pretty obvious from the little I’ve seen on here in your views that you are probably pro-choice.

          • axelbeingcivil

            Charged with what? All evidence seems to be it was a spontaneous miscarriage. Last I checked, miscarrying isn’t illegal. Disposing of human remains in this manner, probably illegal, but that’s not what she was charged with.

      • Jalapeno

        It seems weird that you’d be PROUD of not even bothering to read a persons opinion just because they disagree with you.

        • TheBottomline4This

          “that you’d be PROUD” Find in that comment of mine where I said that Jally…..

          • Jalapeno

            Read the whole statement you posted. It comes across as someone being proud of the fact that they can’t even be bothered to read a few paragraphs.

          • TheBottomline4This

            I didn’t think you could. You’re wrong as usual.

          • Jalapeno

            Okay..so you’re just happily stating that you couldn’t be bothered to read a few paragraphs. I was mistaken.

          • TheBottomline4This

            You are usually mistaken Jally. We all know it.

          • Jalapeno

            Sure, if that makes you feel better. Would be easier for you to prove it, but…oh well.

            At least I’m not too lazy to read a few paragraphs.

          • TheBottomline4This

            I’m not interested in reading wrong things that drag on for no reason.
            If it makes you feel better, go back and read it yourself. I don’t have to prove anything to you Jally. You are lazy, given the views you hold dear.

          • Jalapeno

            ” You are lazy, given the views you hold dear.”

            Hah, what a riot. Thanks for that.

            Someone who can’t even bother trying to comprehend other peoples views is calling me lazy.

          • TheBottomline4This

            You can be so stupid. I have heard his wrong views before. I’m not going to go over them again to appease you. Get a life you poor thing.

          • Jalapeno

            Hah, it’s not “appeasing me”.

            It’s not about me. It’s about being proud of intellectual laziness and projecting onto other people because you assume that their views are as simplistic and black and white as yours. Also..this particular exchange was absolutely hilarious.

          • TheBottomline4This

            Only because you are on the wrong side of issues you choose to comment about on this site. You don’t agree with a lot or most of what is on this site. You can teach me nothing since your views are usually wrong. I’ve heard views like yours my whole life. I thought each side through on each issue and have decided which side is right on each issue.
            Maybe you are still digging through all of the views on issues and need to test others to strengthen your own views. I feel pity for you. You think you actually can shed some light on the issues that are in these stories here, but I haven’t seen that coming from you. You may not like it, but a person is either right or wrong on issues. You usually are on the wrong side.

          • Jalapeno

            I love how you actually act like your views are objectively right..because you say they are.

            I’ve thought through it too and came to the complete opposite conclusion. Let me guess though..you’re right because you’re right and I’m wrong because you’re right.

          • TheBottomline4This

            From what I’ve seen from you on disqus…I’m right on most issues compared to you. You are wrong on a lot Jally.
            Sleep tight dear. You have another day ahead of you tomorrow trying to convert the innocent to your views. You go girl!!!!!

          • Jalapeno

            As far as I can tell, I’m right on most issues and you’re wrong. Funny how that works.

            Of course…I try to read other peoples opinions and think about things from a neutral perspective..so..kinda different standards here.

          • TheBottomline4This

            You go girl!!!!!

        • Reason2012

          Who would need to read the reasons behind a person’s opinion that it’s fine to kill your son/daughter?

          If you do not want a son/daughter, there are plenty of other ways besides “kill_him or her after the fact” that work just fine.

          Morals. Abstinence. Waiting until marriage.

          Instead the left’s view is hand out condoms to kids in their early teens and convince them, implicitly or otherwise, that everyone’s doing it, then watch the genocide PP factories get rich off all the body parts as the abortion rate continues to skyrocket.

          Sad thing is, in the end we will all answer to God, and when those who supported such murderous genocide were happy and proud for their accomplishments, they’ll find out how truly damned they ended up being.

          Luke 12:4-5 “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”

          • Jalapeno

            “Who would need to read the reasons behind a person’s opinion that it’s fine to kill your son/daughter?”

            Because..you want to be intellectually honest and put in basic effort into understanding the other peoples side.

          • Reason2012

            Would it be “intellectually dishonest” to not care why someone_killed their 1 day old son/daughter as it doesn’t change the fact that they_killed him/her?

            No.

            So why is it “intellectually dishonest” if we need reasons why they do it when only an hour old? Or an hour before they come out of the womb? Or a day?

            On what day, exactly, does it become “intellectually dishonest”?

          • Jalapeno

            “Would it be “intellectually dishonest” to not care why someone_killed their 1 day old son/daughter as it doesn’t change the fact that they_killed him/her?”

            If a significant portion of the society you live in thought that infanticide was acceptable, then..yes. It would.

          • Reason2012

            So why is it “intellectually dishonest” if we need reasons why they do it when only an hour old? Or an hour before they come out of the womb? Or a day?

            On what day, exactly, does it become “intellectually dishonest”?

          • Jalapeno

            It’s not about the age of the person, it’s about the fact that a significant portion of the population thinks it should be legal.

            If it’s only a few people, you can discount it easily as the fringe. If it’s a significant portion, a basic understanding of it seems relevant before you argue against it.

            (Really, an understanding of a position is pretty relevant regardless of whether or not it’s a fringe view or not, but it becomes more dishonest when it’s a more widespread view.)

          • Reason2012

            I didn’t say a word about being “legal”.

            So again, why is it “intellectually dishonest” if we need reasons why they do it when only an hour old? Or an hour before they come out of the womb? Or a day?

            On what day, exactly, does it become “intellectually dishonest”?

          • Jalapeno

            I’ve already said that, at least to me, the distinction is whether or not it’s a mainstream view.

          • Reason2012

            So in other words there’s no intellectual dishonesty – you just label it as such because it goes against what YOU believe.

          • Jalapeno

            No…I’m applying the term to being too lazy to understand a mainstream view, regardless of what view that is.

          • Reason2012

            What’s “too lazy” to “understand” the once “mainstream view” that all Jewish people should die? You mean there could be reasons to justify it?

          • Jalapeno

            ” You mean there could be reasons to justify it?”

            The people who believed it obviously had reasons. Why would you not bother to understand them?

          • Reason2012

            // The people who believed it obviously had reasons.
            // Why would you not bother to understand them?

            So you’re reasoning is, listen to them because you might then decide it’s a good idea to_exterminate all the Jews also? Wow.

          • Jalapeno

            No…you listen because you want to understand where they’re coming from.

          • Reason2012

            // No…you listen because you want to understand where
            // they’re coming from.

            So in spite of it being very “mainstream” that killing_Jewish people was ok, you admit it was still evil in spite of it being “mainstream”?

            Yet all this time you’ve been pretending that if killing others in certain circumstances is mainstream, that makes it just fine and moral and others should just try to understand their desire to_kill others instead.

            So much for your claim that “mainstream” means anything when it comes to_killing human beings being anything less than evil.

            So, now that we’ve exposed that lie you’re using, then to address your idea that we should seek to “understand” : No: when others are_killing human beings, you get them to stop and make sure it becomes illegal and that any who continues to do so faces murder charges. You don’t instead let them continue while trying to “understand” them while the slaughtering of human beings continues.

            This only shows how evil it is that those who in any way justify_killing other people, in this case to the tune of over a million a year in the USA alone.

            Hitler_would be proud – he did the same thing: just convince others they’re not human and presto: genocide ensues.

            You’re free to_kill your own son/daughter for now – but I would think twice before you continue to encourage others as their blood_will be on your hands as well when we face God.

          • Jalapeno

            “you admit it was still evil in spite of it being “mainstream”?”

            I never claimed otherwise.

            “Yet all this time you’ve been pretending that if killing others in certain circumstances is mainstream, that makes it just fine and moral and others should just try to understand their desire to_kill others instead.”

            That’s two entirely different concepts.

            Making a basic effort to understand other views is one thing. Saying that their actions are moral is another.

          • Reason2012

            // “you admit it was still evil in spite of it being “mainstream”?”
            // I never claimed otherwise.

            Sure you did: the moment you wrote what looks like a dissertation on defending_killing your son/daughter, and again every time you tried to hide behind_killing your son/daughter as being fine by saying “it’s legal”.

            So now you’re claiming it’s legal to_kill your son but it’s evil? This after you just spend hours defending it?

            Which is it? Pick one. Can’t play both sides of the fence from moment to moment depending on what’s convenient to make it look like you have a point.

            Thank you for continuing to show how pro-death activists speak out of both sides of their mouth, contradicting themselves in their rush to try defending what’s indefensible.

          • Jalapeno

            I’m saying that understanding others viewpoints, especially if it’s a relatively mainstream view, is a basic standard.

            It doesn’t mean you agree.

          • Reason2012

            So now you’re claiming it’s legal to_kill your son but it’s evil?
            Simple question.

          • Jalapeno

            I never said the fact that it was a mainstream view meant it was “okay”.

            I said it means that refusing to put even a little bit of effort into understanding it is intellectually dishonest. Not sure how you keep forgetting that.

          • Reason2012

            It was once “mainstream view” that Jewish people must die – using your logic, that made it moral and normal that they slaughtered millions of them, and those who didn’t care to hear the reasons WHY they thought it was moral and normal were “intellectually dishonest”.

            Behold the twisted logic of pro-death activists.

          • Reason2012

            “Legal” or not, you are killing_your son/daughter. They just make it legal to do so.

            So on the day that it’s no longer legal to_kill your son/daughter, what event happened on that exact day that made it no longer legal?

            Or to put it another way: if it’s now no longer legal to_kill your son/daughter, then why was it legal the day before? Did something metaphysical happen over those 24 hours?

          • Jalapeno

            “Did something metaphysical happen over those 24 hours?”

            No..something legal did.

            It’s called ‘birth’.

          • Reason2012

            So what’s different about your son/daughter 1 minute before he/she comes out of the womb?

          • Jalapeno

            I answered the question.

          • Reason2012

            No, you only mentioned the moment in time that something changed.
            Now I’m asking you to tell me what’s different about your son/daughter over the 1 minute interval besides where they happen to be sitting.
            So because he/she is 1 minute away from coming out of the womb, it’s still ok to slit the neck of your son/daughter to_kill him/her?
            Why? What happened in that one minute?

          • Jalapeno

            ..They were born.

          • Reason2012

            // .They were born
            So they were no difference, it’s just a matter of location.
            Thank you for showing everyone else how devoid of morals and logic pro-death activists typically have.

          • Jalapeno

            “So they were no difference, it’s just a matter of location.”

            It makes a difference legally.

          • Reason2012

            So you unwittingly admit there’s no difference with your son/daughter the moment before they are removed from the womb.

            Imagine that: 60 seconds is the difference between murder and “well now the timing is just fine to_kill your son/daughter – but time is running out!”

            Again than you for showing everyone else how devoid of logic and morals pro-death activists have.

          • Jalapeno

            There is an extremely big legal difference.

          • Reason2012

            So you unwittingly admit there’s no difference with your son/daughter the moment before they are removed from the womb and the moment after.

          • Jalapeno

            It makes a difference legally.

    • The Skeptical Chymist

      Thanks for this careful and detailed analysis, Axel. I appreciate it.

      • axelbeingcivil

        Thanks. I’m glad someone got something out of it.

  • Reason2012

    // “People of color are bearing the brunt of unscientific laws and misplaced
    // moral outrage against abortion, which is blurring into the territory of miscarriage,
    // putting any pregnant person at risk of prosecution and incarceration.”

    More like babies of color are bearing the brunt of PP’s murderous agenda to exterminate as many babies of color as they can and get rich doing it.

    • WorldGoneCrazy

      So true.

      Black lives matter – even in the womb.

  • hytre64

    Given that the child was born (even though prematurely), and then abandoned to die, the charge should have been murder or at the minimum, manslaughter.

    • axelbeingcivil

      If the child was born alive and then left to die, it would be a charge of criminal negligence causing death. A part of the problem in this case is, there just isn’t sufficient evidence to suggest the child was born alive and later died from neglect. Children born this premature almost always die – >80% of the time – even with the best hospital care. Their little lungs just can’t open and there’s usually a complication – like, say, a hemorrhage, which appears to have happened here – that only makes things worse.

      Patel’s newborn was all but exsanguinated. He was likely anoxic before he saw the light of day and, even if he wasn’t, there’d have been no signs of life; no twitching, no moving; skin that had turned blue. He would’ve suffocated inside of two or three minutes beyond any slim hope of resuscitation.

      It’s cold and cruel that the world does this to the vulnerable but it happens. Each year in the United States, there are about 600,000 miscarriages and 26,000 stillbirths.

  • mamabear111

    PP does even worse than her..chops them up and sales their body parts, even after the babies born alive and kills them anyways, how sick the world is…