It should give Indiana prosecutors pause

Yesterday, in Indiana:

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Friday overturned the 2015 feticide conviction of Purvi Patel, the Northern Indiana woman whose botched, self-induced abortion became a flash point in the national debate over abortion rights.

In a 3-0 ruling, the judges said that the state feticide statute was not intended to apply to abortions, and legal experts said that — barring a successful appeal — it should give Indiana prosecutors pause before bringing similar charges against pregnant women in the future.

In its decision, the court relied heavily on how prosecutors have applied the feticide law in the past, noting that this case was an “abrupt departure” from its typical usage: cases in which a pregnant woman and her unborn child are the victims of violence.

“The state’s about-face in this proceeding is unsettling, as well as untenable” under prior court precedent, Judge Terry Crone wrote in the ruling.

The court also said that because many of the state abortion laws dating to the 1800s explicitly protect pregnant women from prosecution, it was a stretch to believe that lawmakers intended for the feticide law to be used against pregnant women who attempt to terminate a pregnancy.

They upheld the conviction for failing to provide medical care to the baby though.

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