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  1. ITV Report

US woman jailed for 20 years for foeticide after miscarriage

Purvi Patel was arrested in July 2013 after admitting herself to hospital in Indiana. Credit: NBC News/St Joseph County Police

An American woman has become the first in the US to be jailed for foeticide - the aborting of a foetus - after being sentenced to 20 years over the death of her child.

Purvi Patel, 33, was convicted of using abortion drugs bought online to terminate her pregnancy and child neglect, having put the stillborn foetus into a bin following a miscarriage at home.

Patel was arrested in July 2013 after arriving at St. Joseph Hospital in Mishawaka, Indiana, bleeding heavily before ultimately admitting to medical authorities what had happened after initially denying being pregnant.

The state of Indiana's verdict and sentencing has alarmed campaigners for women's rights.

"What this conviction means is that anti-abortion laws will be used to punish pregnant woman," Lynn Paltrow, executive director for National Advocates for Pregnant Women, told NBC News.

The case against Patel rested on whether the baby was breathing or still-born at the point of birth.

While a medical witness testified Purvi was most likely 23-24 weeks pregnant, when the foetus was not viable, a forensic pathologist ruled the infant was alive at birth.

The prosecution confirmed the baby died within seconds of being born, NBC News reported.

The defence team for Patel, whose conservative Hindu family does not believe in sex before marriage, argued she acted in panic after realising she was pregnant as a result of an affair with a co-worker.

Patel received a 30-year-sentence on the neglect charge, with 10 years suspended, and a six-year-sentence for foeticide, to run concurrently.

Her defence team is reportedly expected to file an appeal.