Last week, an Indiana judge sentenced Purvi Patel to 20 years in prison for what she has consistently maintained was a miscarriage, becoming the first woman in the United States to be convicted of the crime of feticide for supposedly attempting to self-induce an abortion. That charge alone carried a six-year prison sentence.
NAPW is working closely with allies including the Indiana Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice (IRCRC), National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), and others to lend support to Ms. Patel and her family and to ensure that her conviction and sentence are overturned.
NAPW is also bringing attention to this terrible injustice, and what this case represents for all pregnant women. You can watch NAPW's Executive Director discuss the case on Democracy Now!, 20 Years in Prison for Miscarrying? The Case of Purvi Patel & the Criminalization of Pregnancy:
With NAPW's help, major news outlets, including the New York Times ("Purvi Patel Could Be Just the Beginning"), MSNBC ("How Indiana's pregnancy law targets women"), and The Guardian ("It isn't justice for Purvi Patel to serve 20 years in prison for an abortion") are getting it right.
In addition, with the help of RH Reality Check and the work of activists like Deepa Iyer and the organization Apna Ghar, more than 29,000 people have signed a petition condemning the prosecution, and over $20,000 has been raised for Ms. Patel's family. (Ms. Patel was the sole financial provider for her family and caretaker for her elderly grandparents).
But Ms. Patel's case is not the only one. Last week NAPW took action in an Arkansas case challenging the arrest, conviction, and sentence of yet another woman, Melissa McCann Arms. In 2013, Ms. Arms carried her pregnancy to term and gave birth to a son who is now 2 years-old and by all accounts healthy and well. While pregnant she had been struggling with a drug problem and also struggling to get appropriate treatment. Following the birth of her son, Ms. Arms was charged with the crime of "introducing a controlled substance into the body of another" (based on the prosecutor's claim that she "introduced" methamphetamine to her fetus by ingesting it while pregnant) and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. NAPW helped win review of her case in the Arkansas Supreme Court and last week filed an amicus brief on behalf of leading experts in maternal and child health and drug treatment in support of Ms. Arms.
NAPW is also helping state based activists oppose new legislation that would authorize arrests and convictions like these. Last week, NAPW urged the Arkansas Senate to reject a bill, passed by the Arkansas House, that would have amended the state's law designed, in part, to punish those who give date-rape drugs to women, to make it one that specifically authorizes the arrest of women like Ms. Arms. The bill died in committee, and NAPW was pleased to work with local allies to help defeat it.
Please help NAPW challenge the laws and prosecutions that are condemning pregnant women to prison, and ensure that no other women are subjected to the humiliation of arrest, trial, and decades behind bars for experiencing a pregnancy loss, having an abortion, or going to term.