Friday, October 2, 2015

Bulletin: Purvi Patel: PRI report: "Purvi Patel's new defense team appeals her conviction for feticide and child neglect."..."Today, Patel filed an appeal of that conviction with the Indiana Court of Appeals. She's now represented pro-bono by Stanford Law professor Lawrence Marshall and Indiana University law professor Joel Schumm. Marshall's representation, in particular, shows the precedent-setting importance of her case. Marshall previously founded the Center for Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University. “What I generally gravitate toward are cases where it seems like an intense passion has interfered with dispassionate interpretation and application of the law,” Marshall told the South Bend Tribune in April. “It struck me that this case may be a textbook example of that phenomenon. The text of their appeal is not yet available."
See also: Six disturbing medical issues in the case of Purvi Patel, and one hopeful one:

1. Why was there such a dispute about a fetus's gestational age in Purvi Patel’s trial, and why is it important to know?
It’s not always easy to determine a fetus’s gestational age. Typically, obstetricians calculate a pregnant woman’s due date based on her last menstrual period. They also do an ultrasound in the first trimester to help confirm a due date. The earlier the ultrasound is done, the more reliable it is. Patel never got an ultrasound.
So in Patel’s case, the pathologists for the state and the defense relied on things like the weight of the fetus and physical developmental structures of the fetus and placenta that can give clues about how far along it was. However, these “clues” are not absolute and do vary from fetus to fetus. Additionally, Dr. Kelly McGuire testified about gestational age based on his assessment of the body in a parking lot in the middle of the night.
While it’s difficult to determine the exact age of a preterm fetus, the ability of a fetus to live outside its mother’s womb depends heavily on its gestational age. For extremely preterm babies (those born before 28 weeks), extra-uterine survival can depend on only a few days’ extra time inside the mother’s womb. That extra time is vital for fetal lung development in particular. If born too early, many babies die from respiratory distress.
2. What are the implications of this medical gray area for legal cases like this one?
Now that Purvi Patel has been convicted of causing the death of her preterm baby by “abandoning” it, prosecutors all over Indiana can point to this case and use it as rationale for convicting other women who experience preterm birth. This case also sets precedent for charging women for harming their fetuses, and reproductive rights advocates worry that could possibly be used to convict women who do things like drink alcohol or use illicit drugs while pregnant.
3. What concerns does medical community have about use of fetal homicide laws?
Major medical associations have condemned the use of fetal homicide laws against pregnant women. They say the use of these laws could send a message that if pregnant women inadvertently harm their fetuses, they could end up in prison. Doctors worry this fear could keep women from seeking prenatal care, especially pregnant women who might be addicted to illicit drugs, alcohol and perhaps even cigarettes. Smoking is a known cause of preterm birth.
While many states have fetal homicide laws on the books, some state legislators took health care providers’ concerns into account and and crafted exemptions specifically for pregnant women so they can’t be charged for outcomes of their own pregnancies. Not so in Indiana and 22 other states. (Proceed to the above  link for the remaining disturbig issues in the Purvi Patel case - and the one hopeful one. HL);