Just over a month after her feticide conviction was overturned by an Indiana Appeals Court, Purvi Patel has been freed.
Patel had been charged and convicted of the conflicting charges of feticide (actions leading to the death of a fetus) and child neglect (neglect of a living infant) after suffering what she describes was a miscarriage that resulted in the loss of her 25-week-old fetus. Patel was the first woman in Indiana to be successfully tried under the state’s new feticide laws after the law was also used to pursue charges against another pregnant Asian American woman who had lost her fetus, even though Indiana’s feticide law had originally been passed to protect pregnant women from domestic abuse resulting in loss of their pregnancy. After a much publicized trial, Patel’s guilty verdict resulted in a 20 year jail sentence that outraged feminists and reproductive rights activists (myself included).
Earlier this summer, an Indiana Appeals Court reexamined the case against Patel, and ruled that the feticide law had been inappropriately applied beyond the scope of its original intent. The appeals judge in Patel’s case wrote in the favorable decision, “given that the legislature decriminalized abortion with respect to pregnant women only two years before it enacted the feticide statute, we conclude that the legislature never intended the feticide statute to apply to pregnant women.”
43 years ago today, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision that would serve as an important foundation principle for the establishment of reproductive rights for women. In a 7-2 decision, the Justices ruled that the government had no right to interfere with a woman’s decision to seek (or not seek) an abortion for non-medical reasons; this choice, they declared, was protected by our constitutional right to privacy.
Since then, Roe v. Wade has had an incredible impact on women, enabling an unprecedented social, political and economic mobility for women in general.
As the year winds down to a close, these are the top ten political stories that had a major impact on the AANHPI community highlighting the many political issues that have defined the AANHPI community this year. Sadly, many didn’t receive much mainstream media coverage.
How many of these stories were you following this year?
Earlier this year, I named the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) one of my Giving Tuesday Top 5 organizations for their tireless advocacy around racial justice and women’s rights. NAPAWF has been at the forefront of many key issues relevant to the the AANHPI community, chief among them reproductive rights. For years, NAPAWF has engaged in a state-by-state fight to protect our reprodictive rights (which is of particular importance for the AANHPI community) in part by challenging conservative efforts to rollback abortion access with overtly race-baiting bans on abortions if doctors find that the procedure is sought for reasons such as fetal sex. Despite the lack of any evidence that women are seeking such abortions in any significant numbers, these restrictions are passed on the basis of stereotyping of Black, Asian and immigrant parents as immoral and sexist. Further, these racist laws have received scant commentary or criticism from mainstream media or center-aisle Democrats.
Two years ago, NAPAWF joined forces with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to file a lawsuit challenging one particularly vile and racist abortion ban in Arizona, which is noteworthy for its unusually explicit fear-mongering of Black and Asian women during debate that preceded passage of this as the first bill to ban race-selective abortion in addition to sex-selective abortion.
In the wake of a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood — one of the nation’s largest healthcare service providers for women (as well as men and youth) — the Senate voted last night on a bill that would have prohibited federal funds from going to the organization. That bill received 53 yea votes to 46 nay votes, 7 short of the 60 needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster, effectively defeating the proposed measure.
Women’s health advocates can breathe a little bit easier after last night’s defeat of conservative efforts to dismantle a network of clinics that serve over 2.7 million patients nationwide, many of them low- or middle-income women. Although Planned Parenthood is a perpetual target of pro-life hate-mongers, the group actually provides a broad range of reproductive and general healthcare services, including sex education, contraceptive care, and pre-natal care, as well as tests and treatment for sexually-transmitted diseases. Less than 5% of the clinic’s patients arrive seeking abortion services.