Asian-American and women's health advocacy groups rallied Monday in support of 33-year-old Purvi Patel as she appealed her conviction of feticide and neglect of a dependent child in an Indiana Court. Multiple groups have filed amicus curiae briefs in support of Patel, including the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF).
Indiana's feticide law was originally passed to protect pregnant women from violence after a pregnant bank teller was shot during a 2008 bank robbery. Patel was found guilty in 2015 after visiting a hospital in 2013 bleeding heavily, becoming the first woman in the United States to be convicted of feticide. She is currently serving a 20 year sentence. Advocates are concerned that Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other women of color will be disproportionately targeted by similar laws.
"Even though only two percent of Indiana's population is Asian American, the only women ever charged with feticide in that state are Asian American," Miriam Yeung, executive director of NAPAWF, told NBC News, referring to Patel and Bei Bei Shuai, who was charged with feticide in 2011. The charge was later dropped as part of a plea deal.
"And Indiana is not the only place where prejudice is a problem," Yeung continued. "A study of arrests and forced interventions on pregnant women shows that approximately 71 percent of these women are low-income and 59 percent are women of color. Asian American and Pacific Islander women are especially at risk of targeting because of racist myths about our reproductive decisions."
In a teleconference after the hearing, Sangeetha Ravichandran of Chicago-based Apna Ghar, Inc. said, "It was amazing to see a full courtroom with supporters of Purvi holding hope for this case. And we also came out of it feeling very hopeful and hoping to see things come out in favor of Purvi."