A Tennessee woman charged with attempted murder for using a coat hanger to try to abort a 24-week-old fetus pled guilty to a felony this week in exchange for her release from jail, the New York Times reported.
Anna Yocca, 32, had been jailed for more than a year for on charges related to her abortion. It was discovered that she had attempted to abort the fetus with a coat hanger after she went to a hospital to treat her injuries.
At the hospital, Yocca gave birth to a boy via emergency C-section. He was born with several severe medical problems, either attributable to his early birth or to the attempted abortion. Yocca gave him up for adoption.
“Her plea cannot be seen as any kind of validation for the use of criminal law to address pregnancy or any kind of outcome of pregnancy,” said Lynn Paltrow, the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which helped with Yocca’s defense. “It’s an example of how criminal law can be used to pressure and intimidate people into pleading guilty to crimes so they don’t spend even more years incarcerated.”
At 24 weeks, a fetus may be viable, making an abortion at that time potentially not protected by Roe v. Wade. In Tennessee, abortion is only allowed after 24 weeks if continuing the pregnancy is a health risk for the mother.
Still, Yocca’s case alarmed some abortion rights activists, who point out that it is challenging to obtain an abortion in Tennessee. There are only abortion clinics in four Tennessee counties, and all women seeking an abortion have to undergo counseling and a 48-hour waiting period.
Yocca pled guilty to a felony count of attempted procurement of a miscarriage. She had previously been charged with murder and fetal assault for the crime.
[Image: Rutherford County Sheriff's Office]