So I haven’t written about Purvi Patel yet. Or the spike in HIV cases. Or the RFRA. I think it’s party because I’ve been too numb and scared and bewildered and trying to grok what’s going on in Indiana. And across the country. Across my country. So let’s break up this overwhelming set of circumstances and take them in smaller bits. Today let’s talk about Purvi Patel.
For an explanation of who Purvi Patel is and the ordeal that she’s been put through, check out this article from The New York Times, Purvi Patel Could Be Just the Beginning.
Someone was just sentenced to 20 years in prison for aborting a fetus. This just happened in the United States of America, y’all. The first person in US history to be convicted of feticide for aborting her own pregnancy.
Purvi Patel’s trial and sentencing has been an exercise in contradiction. Feticide and felony child neglect. Pathologist for the defense says no way the fetus could have survived. Pathologist for the prosecution say the baby was born alive.
A woman driven to a self-administered abortion, who presents to the ER when she needs subsequent medical care. Later she’s charged with murder…of a fetus… and sentenced to a draconian 20 years in prison on the shakiest of excuses (but…it might have been alive…at 24 weeks…lungs float…or something…) It’s not right. It’s not humane. It’s the judgement of a self-righteous population that thinks women should be chaste and fuck ’em if they get themselves pregnant. Especially women of color like Purvi Patel.
Where is it going to end? People are going to be afraid to present to the ER in the case of a reproductive health medical emergency if they’re going to be treated like suspects in a crime. Every miscarriage open to scrutiny. Our bodies reduced to the incubators that some in our society think we are. We become responsible not just for carrying a pregnancy, but for carrying a pregnancy to term – and that baby better be healthy when it exits your body, people! This burden is unbearable.
I’m overwhelmed by the sorrow and despair that I feel. Is this really happening in the country in which I live? On the sidewalk, anti-choice protesters claim to want to help women. When pressed, they’re loathe to say that women should be sent to prison for having an abortion, but the jury in Indiana did just that.
According to LifeNews – a website devoted to excoriating abortion and reproductive choice – Purvi Patel killed her newborn baby via neglect of a dependent. Except in the very next paragraph when they gloat that she killed her 25-week-old unborn baby when she took an abortion drug. Cake and eating it too. Killed the unborn baby in utero, then killed the baby again when it was born. String the double-murdering bitch up, y’all!
I would say that I couldn’t care less about the commentary coming out of LifeNews, but when I have probed friends and acquaintances in various social circles I’ve gotten this same sort of vague, helpless “I dunno…” reaction from way too many people. The victim blaming and self-righteous judgement around Purvi Patel’s circumstances and decisions is simply nauseating. The uneasiness that some people have about later gestation abortions (driven by anti-abortion groups such as Pro-Life Across America) is causing us to overlook the fact that we have just sentenced a woman to 20 years in prison because she ended her pregnancy. It’s smoke and mirrors in the anti-choice camps right now.
Oh, and PRI just put out a piece that highlights the self-righteous, inhumane doctor who reported Purvi Patel for child abuse:
The person who set the legal process in motion was Dr. Kelly McGuire, who was on call the night in 2013 when Purvi Patel showed up in the emergency room of St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center near South Bend, Indiana. McGuire is listed as a pro-life physician for the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The association has about 2,500 members and associates. Its web site declares that a physician’s “right of conscience” in medical decision-making is a crucial part of their advocacy aims, and that the association seeks to counter “[s]trong voices within our culture (and within our professional College) [which] espouse elective abortion on demand as a standard of care for unwanted pregnancies.”
Well Dr. McGuire – he just went above and beyond the call of duty this time, didn’t he? What a fucking hero.
There are ways to show your support for Purvi Patel. Deepa Iyer has written a blog post with four ways to show your support. She also addresses the racial implications of Patel’s case.
1. Sign the petition at RhReality Check: Send a message to Indiana leaders about Purvi’s case and the feticide law.
2. Support Purvi Patel’s Family: Patel was the breadwinner and caregiver in her family. Donate to support her family.
3. Raise awareness: Share articles and resources about the verdict with your own networks; write blogposts and opeds; and tweet using #Justice4Purvi to raise awareness about the implications of this case on the rights of all women.
4. Send a note of support to Purvi Patel: You can send cards to Purvi Patel c/o The Indiana Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice (IRCRC), PO Box 723, Lafayette, IN 47902. They will deliver them to Patel on their visits to her in prison.
Get mad. Get outraged. Get vocal and involved. This is too far.