Purvi Patel was just convicted of feticide and child neglect in Indiana. And women’s rights activists are going bananas, and nuts … and other produce. Perhaps this is just another symptom of Indiana’s recent status as religious right extremist crazy wonderland. I don’t know.
But the leftist bleeding hearts have this one wrong too. As you might expect. Here’s the story. Purvi Patel lives with her very conservative Hindu parents. She is having an affair with a married man. She gets pregnant. Fast forward a few months. She shows up bleeding at a hospital claiming she had a stillborn pre-term baby. The doctors ask where the baby’s body is. It’s in a dumpster. Purvi Patel is convicted of an illegal abortion (AKA feticide) and child neglect, and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
That’s the Reader’s Digest version. The details are important. Don’t tell women’s rights activists that though. In fact, don’t tell anyone that. You wouldn’t want to withhold another piece of red meat from the Indiana extremist feeding frenzy.
Here are some pertinent details. First, text messages show that Patel planned to illegally order drugs from Hong Kong to terminate her pregnancy. Three days later, she “lost the baby.” Throwing the baby’s remains in a dumpster is not exactly the action of a person who wanted the baby. But that’s irrelevant in one sense, because she could have killed the baby legally if she had gone through the “proper” channels. But she didn’t.
That’s where things get really, really weird. The problem is that the “rights” of the baby are not clear. And the motives of the mother are apparently important even for the same external circumstances. One of the most absurd things I’ve read so far on this case indicates just how arbitrary abortion laws are:
If this case were only about a woman who clearly gave birth to a live baby and then killed her child, it would be clear cut. There is a line between pregnancy and birth, and once it is crossed, the state has just as much at stake in protecting the life of a newborn as it does in protecting the life of anyone else. But the evidence that Patel’s baby was born alive is sharply contested.
Does anyone else think that’s completely crazy? Are people even listening to themselves? If the baby were born alive at 23-24 weeks, then killing it would be murder. But killing it in the womb at that same gestation is perfectly legal, as long as the drugs you use are prescribed by a doctor (rather than ordered online) or administered in a certified clinic. Oh, and let’s not forget the real kicker here. If you fail to kill your baby in the womb, and it is born alive, you can’t kill it once it’s out. In fact, refusing to give it the care it needs to survive (once you’ve failed to kill it in the womb, mind you) is grounds for a capital offense charge of child neglect!
Just, for a moment, savor the insanity of our situation. Good. Now let’s get sane. There are only two ways you can go. One, life begins at conception and legal protections extend to conception. Or, life does not begin at conception, so life is a flexible demarcation attended by a fluctuating hierarchy of rights arbitrated arbitrarily by the State.
What if we were to extend legal protection to unborn babies? People say the State would be harassing grieving women after miscarriages. Maybe. But no one thinks the State should leave grieving parents alone when their older children die accidentally. It’s the State’s job to determine if there’s reasonable doubt of criminal negligence or malicious intent. Most miscarriages would be open and shut cases. Some would not. Patel’s case is not an open and shut case. Not even under our crazy system.
And let’s not kid ourselves. It is crazy. Let’s re-iterate. A woman can legally hire a professional butcher to kill her unborn baby, as long as the baby is still located in the womb. If the baby doesn’t die before it exits the womb, it has legal protections once it is out, even if it just barely survived an abortion attempt inside the womb.
And the only difference between feticide and a legal abortion is the involvement of a “medical professional.” The intent or involvement of the mother isn’t even at issue. Obviously a woman who gets an abortion intends feticide and is involved in it. Abortion is legal feticide only because the State calls it legal. There’s no other difference. And the only difference between feticide and infanticide is the physical location of the baby, not the nature of the baby.
Think about that next time bleeding hearts talk about compassion and women’s rights and blah blah blah. We’re crazy in our heads and crazy in our hearts.
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