This time of year, Granger, Indiana, nestled just under the taint of Michigan, is an ugly, flat, grey place. Right now Granger's trees are bare and the fields around are long past harvest. It's bereft of color, with the pale sky bleeding into the pale landscape. Down a little south and a little west is South Bend, not a big place, but a metropolis compared to Granger. And it's there that Granger resident Purvi Patel was just yesterday found guilty of the seemingly conflicting charges of feticide and child neglect and faces decades in prison.
The 33 year-old woman was hiding her pregnancy from her Hindu parents. According to Patel's text messages, she ordered abortifacient drugs online, but she was 24 weeks along. According to Patel, she didn't take the drugs, but she miscarried and delivered a stillborn fetus that she put in a dumpster before going to a hospital emergency room for bleeding. According to prosecutors, the baby was alive, and Patel left it to die. No drugs were found in her blood because it's difficult to test for the specific type, according to a toxicologist. In a hospital interview with detectives, Patel answered all questions, even when a detective told her she could tell him to leave the maternity ward where she was resting. Patel said she was in her room at home when the miscarriage happened and she tried to resuscitate the baby. She said she was in shock and put the body in a plastic bag that she then disposed of in a dumpster behind her parents' restaurant, a Moe's burrito joint. Patel worked there seven days a week.
Imagine that: An adult woman miscarrying and then going, bleeding, to the filthy bin in back of a fast-food place to throw out the fetus because of religion-induced fear and then being arrested and tried for the death based on a law that was created to punish, we were told, abusive fathers. Goddamn, the Fetus Supremacists are terrible human beings.
Indiana's feticide law says it occurs when a someone "knowingly or intentionally terminates a human pregnancy with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus." The police and prosecutor insist that Patel took the abortion drugs, but there is no medical evidence. Just a hunch and some texts. In fact, as one OB-GYN wrote, "Many (if not most) online pharmacies selling 'abortion' drugs are profiting from counterfeit medication, sugar pills, expired product, or even an entirely different drug altogether." Even if she had taken the drugs, Indiana's criminal code says that "the law does not apply to an abortion." Unless, of course, you're now talking about an illegal abortion, which answers the question of whether you would punish the mother for that. Otherwise, Patel is guilty of a poorly-timed miscarriage.
In 2013, Indiana wasn't able to get a conviction for a woman accused of murder and attempted feticide. Bai Bai Fushai tried to kill herself by ingesting rat poison. She was pregnant, and she ended up giving birth a week later to a baby that died 4 days later. In a different county, injustice has prevailed.
This is where we are in our unending abortion battle, treating women as murderers when a sane nation would offer them care and comfort. We are not that sane nation.