Desi Talk - page 12

– that’s all you need to know
May 8, 2015
Continued from page 10
According to it, of the more
than 160 incidents of arrest of
women based on their status as
pregnant people, there was a “sig-
nificant disproportionality” in the
race of those women targeted for
arrest and criminal prosecution –
approximately 70 percent of the
cases were brought against
women of color.
While a majority of these cases
involved allegations that the
woman was using an illegal drug
while pregnant, African American
women were particularly targeted
for harsh and punitive responses,
the study contended.
“Scores, if not hundreds of new
arrests have occurred since 1992,”
NAPW said in a 2014 review.
During Patel’s case there is no
concrete evidence to support the
contention that she was singled
out for her race, ethnicity, or
national origin.
Observers note nevertheless,
that at every stage of a pregnant
woman’s life, especially in the
event of a miscarriage or abortion,
she is dealing with an infrastruc-
ture peopled by those who have
considerable discretion on how to
treat them.
The healthcare workers, the
police, the prosecution, all of
them exercise a high level of dis-
cretion and in a situation like
Patel’s, consciously or uncon-
sciously, the bias may creep in.
“One has to look at how health-
care was given because there was
a lot of discretion there, and it
could have gone one way or the
other,” says Jack. Patel could have
been treated by the hospital
where she went for help, and let
go, or as in this case, she in fact
ended up being arrested. The rest
is history. The National Advocates
for PregnantWomen says it is not
going to let it disappear into the
annals of history. Paltrow said
they are “making sure” the world
knows what this prosecution,
conviction, and “extreme” sen-
tence means and the “unprece-
dented violations of civil rights,
human rights, and human decen-
cy it represents.”
Apna Ghar, a Chicago-based
women’s support group started
the Purvi Patel Family Support
Fund to help Patel’s family
through financial stress. Desi Talk
got no response from Indian-
American activists it contacted for
this story.
Defense Team
Lawrence Marshall, a Stanford
University law professor, and Joel
Schumm, a law professor at
Indiana University’s McKinley
School of Law are leading a pro-
bono team to fight the conviction.
They filed a Notice of Appeal in
Indiana Appeals Court April 24.
Alongside them are a host of
groups and stakeholders who will
be represented by attorney
Kathrine Jack in an amicus brief.
“We have a lot of medical profes-
sionals who are upset with this
judgment, who feel the “born
alive” test was improperly used,
medical service providers who
feel concerned this will deter
pregnant women from seeking
help, as well as some South Asian
groups and tons of others,” Jack
told Desi Talk.
One of the major arguments
the Patel’s defense will put for-
ward was that the feticide charge
was never intended to apply to
her kind of situation, but rather to
anyone who attacked or harmed a
pregnant women.
That is why women’s rights
groups are up in arms because
they contend the law is being
wrongfully used to criminalize
The appeal and Jack’s amicus
brief will also contend that both
the feticide and neglect of child
were based on evidence that was
very weak and the science used
had been discredited already.
Evidence from prosecutors on
how far along Patel’s pregnancy
had gone, was also not strong,
they will contend. Prosecutors
had estimated it was somewhere
between 25 and 28 weeks, while
Patel had contended she was
probably two months pregnant at
the time of the incident in July
Future of the Case
For Patel dismally waiting in
jail, it could be several months
before the next decisive develop-
ment that will decide her fate.
Under Indiana law, after the
Notice of Appeal filed April 24, the
court has to prepare the transcript
of the entire trial, a process that
can take up to 90 days, Jack says.
Following that, Patel’s team and
Jack have 30 days to prepare their
briefs and file the appeal.
The Appeals Court will then
decide whether it wants to pro-
nounce on the case or hold oral
In Indiana courts don’t as a
matter of course, hold oral argu-
ments. “My guess is they will hold
an oral argument because of the
important issues,” that Patel’s case
Villain or Victim?
Purvi Patel is taken into custody after being sentenced to 20 years in prison for feticide and neglect of a dependent, March 30.
Scene where the newborn’s body was found.
“We have a lot
of medical
professionals who
are upset with this
judgment, who
feel the “born alive”
test was improperly
used, medical
service providers
who feel concerned
this will deter
pregnant women
from seeking help,
as well as some
South Asian
groups and tons
of others”
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