Video: Murder by abortion pill?

updated 11/30/2007 11:56:45 AM ET 2007-11-30T16:56:45

Authorities charged a married man Thursday with slipping his girlfriend an abortion drug that caused her to miscarry twice.

Manishkumar M. Patel, 34, of Appleton, was charged with seven felonies and two misdemeanors, including attempted first-degree murder of an unborn child, stalking, burglary and two counts of violating a restraining order.

His attorney, Thomas Zoesch, said he expected his client to plead not guilty.

Patel and his girlfriend, 39-year-old family physician Darshana Patel, have a 3-year-old child together, authorities said. They are not related, and he is married to someone else; Patel is a common Indian last name.

Darshana Patel became pregnant two more times but miscarried in December and September, Outagamie County sheriff’s Capt. Michael Jobe said.

Spiked smoothie
A week or two before her second miscarriage, Manishkumar Patel bought her a smoothie at an ice cream shop, Sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Carpenter said. Darshana Patel noticed white powder on the rim and, feigning illness, took the drink back to her office.

Suspecting she had been slipped mifespristone, the abortion pill also known as RU-486, Darshana Patel sent a sample of the smoothie to a California lab for analysis, Carpenter said.

When it tested positive for the drug, she approached the sheriff’s department Nov. 1. Manishkumar Patel was arrested Wednesday.

Court Commissioner Brian Figy ordered Patel held on $750,000 bail after prosecutor Mark Schroeder said he had a net worth of $400,000 and investigators found evidence he had been looking at flights to Germany.

“The allegations are devious, diabolical and disturbing,” Figy said. “Extraordinary cases deserve extraordinary care.”

A legal immigrant from India, Manishkumar Patel owns gas stations and other businesses in the Appleton area, Carpenter said.

Carpenter did not know where Patel’s wife was but said investigators do not believe she’s in the area.

Man allegedly says he gave her the drug
Patel told investigators he gave his girlfriend the drug but would not give them details on how he did it, Carpenter said. Investigators believe he got the drug outside the U.S. because it must be obtained here from a doctor and taken in the doctor’s office, he said.

Wisconsin is one of 37 states with a fetal homicide law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Under the 1998 law, anyone who attacks a pregnant woman and injures or kills her fetus could face life in prison.

At least six people have been charged with a crime under the law since 1998, according to Susan Armacost, legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life. The group tracks use of the law through media reports, so Armacost said it’s possible there are more cases.

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