MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A Tennessee woman who is accused of attempting a coat hanger abortion to kill her unborn son is now facing a charge of “attempted criminal abortion” after prosecutors dropped their original charge of first-degree attempted murder.
As previously reported, Anna Yocca, 31, an unmarried mother, reportedly filled her bathtub with water last September and then “took a coat hanger and attempted to self-abort her pregnancy.” When she began bleeding, Yocca became concerned for her safety, and her boyfriend drove her to the hospital.
“The whole time she was concerned for her health, her safety and never gave any attention to the health and safety to the unborn child,” Sergeant Kyle Evans told local television station WTVF.
Doctors were able to save her baby, now named Leo, who was 24 weeks gestation or six months. However, the child suffered injuries to his lungs, eyes and heart during the attempted murder that will likely require medical attention for the rest of his life.
“Although Saint Thomas Midtown [Hospital] was able to save ‘Baby Yocca,’ they indicated to me that his quality of life will be forever harmed,” Detective Tommy Roberts told reporters.
He began investigating the situation while Yocca was hospitalized, and discovered that the woman had made “disturbing statements” to nurses in explaining that she had attempted to perform a self-abortion.
Yocca was soon charged with first-degree attempted murder of her six-month gestated child, but abortion advocates protested any legal action against the mother, asserting that prosecutors had joined the “war on women.”
During Yocca’s arraignment, approximately a dozen abortion supporters stood outside of the courthouse holding signs and wearing stickers that read “Abortion on demand and without apology.” One sign read, “Drop all charges against Anna Yocca. Fetuses are not babies. Women are not incubators.”
Yocca’s attorney, Gerald Melton also called for the charge to be dropped, stating that while Tennessee’s murder statute “defines ‘another’ or ‘another person’ to include an embryo or fetus as a victim to any act made criminal homicide by statute, an exception exists in application of this part to acts by the pregnant mother toward her own embryo or fetus.”
Prosecutors later withdrew the charge, and on Nov. 12, a grand jury leveled new charges against Yocca: aggravated assault with a weapon, attempted procurement of a miscarriage and attempted criminal abortion.
Yocca has been held in the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center since last December on $200,000 bail. She is expected to appear in court on Nov. 28 to be arraigned on the new charges.
As previously reported, in an introductory lecture to his course on obstetrics in 1854, Philadelphia Dr. Hugh Lennox Hodge explained that if a woman were to come to a medical doctor in pursuit of an abortion, “he must, as it were, grasp the conscience of his weak and erring patient and let her know in language not to be misunderstood that she is responsible to her Creator for the life of the being within her.”
“So low, gentleman, is the moral sense of community on this subject. So ignorant are even the greater number of individuals, that even mothers in many instances shrink not at the commission of this crime, but will voluntarily destroy their own progeny, in violation of every natural sentiment, and in opposition to the laws of God and man,” he said.
“Perhaps there are few individuals in extensive practice as obstetricians who have not had frequent applications made to them by the fathers or mothers of unborn children (respectable and polite in their general appearance and manners), to destroy the fruit of illicit pleasure under the vain hope of preserving their reputation by this unnatural and guilty sacrifice.”