Woman Tries To Give Herself An Abortion, Gets Charged With Crime

Photo: Courtesy of Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.
A Tennessee woman has been charged with attempted murder in the first degree after a failed attempt to abort a fetus with a coat hanger.

Anna Yocca, 31, of Murfreesboro, TN, was six months into her pregnancy when she attempted to abort her fetus, reports the Murfreesboro Post. After she started bleeding, Yocca and her boyfriend went to the emergency room at St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital. Yocca was transferred to Nashville's St. Thomas Mid-Town, where the hospital staff delivered the child.

Tennessee, Yocca's home state, prohibits abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, and Tennessee clinics don't provide abortions after 16 weeks of pregnancy. For women who seek abortions, Tennessee state law requires two visits to the clinic, with a 48-hour waiting period. As of 2011, the state had only 14 abortion providers, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and 63 percent of Tennessee women lived in counties with no abortion clinics. Tennessee is also one of 38 states where fetal homicide is a crime.

Yocca attempted the self-abortion in September, when she was 24 weeks' pregnant. She was arrested on Wednesday and has now been incarcerated, and is being held on $200,000 bail. Yocca, who was indicted by a Rutherford County grand jury, is due in court on December 21.

Tennessee law requires health providers to "use due care to preserve [the] life of [a] baby born alive" in the case of unlawful abortions. Yocca's baby survived; it weighed just 1.5 pounds after the delivery, according to the Post. Doctors believe the child will experience long-term medical issues.

Though coat hanger abortions may seem like a grisly thing of the past, The Washington Post notes that many women in the U.S. have attempted the procedure in recent years. In 2009, a team of doctors in Washington state published a case study on a woman who attempted to abort twin fetuses with a coat hanger.

Cherisse Scott, founder and CEO of the Memphis-based reproductive-rights organization SisterReach, said in a statement provided to Refinery29 that the incident "could have been avoided" if Tennessee had less restrictive abortion laws. "The Tennessee legislature is responsible for the coat hanger; however, Ms. Yocca is on trial, and that is unacceptable," Scott said in the statement. Scott added that incidents like Yocca's could "happen more frequently" if the state doesn't repeal its fetal assault law, which allows penalties of up to 15 years in prison for harming a fetus.

A study from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project found that the number of self-induced abortions in the state increased when access to abortion services decreased. "This new study confirms that women who are denied safe, legal abortion care where they live are more likely to take matters into their own hands — with often devastating consequences," Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a November statement.

Correction: Tennessee legislators passed a law banning abortions after 12 weeks, but that ban has not gone into effect.
Advertisement

More from US News

Update: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney announced in a press conference that dashcam and body cam video of the department's interaction with...
Election Day lasts just one day — a 24-hour culmination of the seemingly never-ending campaign season. But we’ll spend the next two, four, six years ...
What can you do to make the candidates first head-to-head battle as pleasant as possible? What is the secret to keep yourself smizing as you listen to the ...
If the chaotic party politics of the 2016 election have left you feeling completely birdbrained, this video is for you. The Founding Fathers (presented ...
The 2016 presidential election has been a captivating contest. If you feel like sometimes you can't look away, well, you're not alone. Even celebrities ...
In the social order of bonobos, females rule and develop cross-generational bonds to keep the males in check. A senior female takes charge, intervening ...
The first presidential debate is finally upon us. On Monday, our candidates for commander-in-chief will finally go head-to-head on issues that matter ...
Update: Officer Betty Shelby, the policewoman who fatally shot Terence Crutcher last Friday, has been charged with first-degree manslaughter, NBC News ...
Step aside, old-school political merch. We're way past bumper stickers and buttons. With the election just months away, people across the country are ...
Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis: Hillary Clinton from Funny Or Die Will Tim Kaine be president for nine months if Hillary Clinton gets pregnant? ...
Goodbye, paperwork printouts and lines at the DMV. Hello, registering while in line for coffee. Starting today, you can register to vote over text ...
1. Here At Home: No charges will be filed against police in the shooting death of Korryn Gaines. Korryn Gaines, 23, was shot and killed on August 1 ...
It happened again. This week, two Black men went from living, breathing human beings to hashtags. And yet, despite all I hear about hashtag activism, I'm...
Many of the stations throughout the gun range are filled with men. But here, all the shooters — and instructors — are women