Patel’s case grabbed the attention of the nation because of the unique circumstances of her charges. After an alleged self-induced abortion in August 2013, she was imprisoned and sentenced to 20 years in prison for feticide and the neglect of a dependent. It was the first time a pregnant woman had been charged under the feticide law, which was originally intended to increase penalties for perpetrators of crimes against pregnant women.
In late July 2016, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned Patel’s feticide conviction on the grounds that the law was not intended to be used against pregnant women. The state of Indiana decided not to appeal the decision, and on Wednesday (August 31), a judge resentenced Patel per the child neglect charge. That new setence was 18 months, which she has already served.
This outcome is good news for Patel and the legal landscape of abortion rights. While other states can still use this tactic to criminalize women who are suspected of self-inducing an abortion—38 states currently have similar laws on the books—this case creates a precedent that indicates the charges may not hold up in court.