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Woman Who Was Originally Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison For an Abortion Has Been Released

In 2015, Indiana woman Purvi Patel, 35, was convicted of feticide—in this case meaning she took abortion-inducing drugs—and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Her conviction was overturned in July, and on Thursday she was released from prison after a judge changed her sentence to less time than she had already served.


The Associated Press reports that Patel's attorney, Lawrence Marshall, said that Patel is "very, very joyful that this day has come," and that she now wishes for privacy to take the time to rebuild her life. After "what is obviously a traumatic several years" for Patel, Marshall says it will take time for her to recover and make a new life for herself.

Patel was originally arrested after going to the hospital for profuse bleeding. Prosecutors say she took abortion-inducing drugs she had ordered on the internet, then gave birth to a premature baby boy at her family's house and disposed of the body in a trash bin outside her family's restaurant. While in reality Patel was 25 weeks into her pregnancy, Patel's attorney argued that she thought she was only 10-12 weeks along.

Patel was the first pregnant woman sentenced under a law that had previously been used against people who attacked pregnant women. While prosecutors argued that the law could apply to Patel's situation, the appeals court disagreed, vacating the convictions on the premise that the law was not meant to punish women for abortion, according to the AP. This caused a judge to re-sentence Patel to 18 months in prison for a lower-level child neglect charge, which was less time than she had already served.

When Brock Turner serves less than three months in jail for a felony sexual assault, but a woman who gets an abortion is sentenced to 20 years in prison, you know there's something wrong with our system. Luckily, the appeals process worked for Patel.

Cara Milhaven is a sophomore studying communication at Villanova University. She is a contributing writer for Her Campus National as well as the Senior Editor of Her Campus Villanova. She loves caffeine, Christmas movies, fall, and Zac Efron.
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