National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum denounces attack on pregnant women’s rights

For Immediate Release
May 19, 2016
Contact: Amy Lebowitz (212-255-2575 or amy@caminopr.com)

NEW YORK — The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and women’s rights activists will gather in Indianapolis, Indiana, in support of Purvi Patel. They will be at the state courthouse on May 23, 2016, for Patel’s hearing before the Indiana Court of Appeals. The hearing takes place at 2 p.m. EST (The oral arguments will live stream here.)

NAPAWF joined other Asian American and women’s health leaders in filing an amicus brief in support of Purvi Patel, a 33-year old Indian American, who is the first woman in the U.S. to be convicted and sent to prison for feticide along with the contradictory charge of child neglect in connection with an attempt to terminate her own pregnancy. Patel was found guilty under Indiana’s feticide law which was passed to protect pregnant women from violence. She was sentenced to 20 years for child neglect and 6 years for feticide to be served concurrently.

“Purvi Patel is being singled out because of myths and racist stereotypes about Asian American women and their pregnancies,” said Miriam Yeung, executive director of the NAPAWF. “Women across the country are now at risk of being arrested for the outcomes of their pregnancies.”

Only two women have been charged with feticide under the Indiana law. Both are Asian American women, despite the fact that abortion and miscarriage happen throughout the state and across races, and that only two percent of the state population is Asian.

“Fetal homicide” laws are on the books in 38 states. A study of arrests and forced interventions on pregnant women found that approximately 71 percent of those targeted were low-income women, 59 percent were women of color.

“Purvi Patel was a scared woman who needed help from a hospital and ended up in jail. No one, including Purvi Patel, should fear arrest or jail for making personal, medical decisions about their pregnancies. Pregnancy and all of its potential outcomes are health matters not police matters,” said Yeung. “Ms. Patel should be freed from prison immediately. No new feticide laws should be passed, and those that are on the books should be repealed because they are clearly being used to punish not protect women.”