ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- Since her dead newborn baby was found in a Mishawaka dumpster in July of 2013, Purvi Patel has been out on bond.
Today, she was taken into custody and ordered to start serving a 20 year executed sentence on child neglect and feticide charges.
In this case, prison was an option, but not a requirement.
While the defense argued for home detention or community corrections, prosecutors warned that would diminish the seriousness of the crime and the age of the victim. “All cases involving child victims are challenging,” said Deputy Prosecutor Mark Roule after today’s sentencing hearing. “I have been, I’m in my 13th year. There are obviously officers that have been doing it a lot longer and the cases with children and particularly the cases with babies are the ones that people remember. They’re the ones that may wake you up in the middle of the night.”
Patel had no criminal history and she lives with, and cares for her parents and infirm grandparents in Granger. Still, the State of Indiana imposes regulations on abortions and it was argued that Patel ignored them for all the wrong reasons.
“You know she lived in a nice home. Had a Cadillac SRX vehicle, so she was not an indigent person who could not afford medical care,” said Roule.
Yet Patel never went to a doctor about a pregnancy she tried to keep to herself, and tried to end by herself with prescription abortion drugs she purchased off the internet.
When that attempted abortion instead resulted in a live birth, Patel “treated the child, literally, as a piece of trash,” said St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Hurley, who said Patel had “abused her position of trust.”
No one is condoning what happened. No one’s condoning the actions, the dumpster and that,” said Rev. Marie Siroky who attended today’s hearing. “But I think the other part you heard from the judge and from the prosecutor, what they said, they felt she ‘was thinking,’ no one knows what anybody is thinking.”
Rev. Siroky thinks the Patel case sends a dangerous message at a time when the availability of abortion pills has increased on the internet, and the number of abortion clinics in Indiana keeps dwindling. “And we may be very close to getting only two abortion clinics in the state, or in two cities, Indianapolis and Bloomington. Long waiting periods, this is a set up for this to happen.”
Sue Ellen Braunlin is with the Indiana Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice who has been closely watching the Patel case. She claims it marks just the second time in Indiana history that a law written to protect pregnant women from third party violence, has been used to prosecute women trying to abort. “The expanded application of the feticide laws, it will go on to criminalize women who have problems with their pregnancy or who intend to end their pregnancy on their own.”
Judge Hurley actually sentenced Patel to 30 years on the child neglect charge and six years on the Feticide count. Both sentences will run concurrently. 10 years of the child neglect sentence was suspended, and five years of probation added to the mix. Patel’s effective sentence of 20 years will be served under a set of old guidelines that allow for one day’s worth of good time credit for each day served. That means Patel’s time behind bars could be trimmed to as little as 10 years.