MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A Tennessee woman who is accused of attempting a coat hanger abortion to kill her unborn son accepted a plea deal this week and was released after receiving credit for the time served.
Anna Yocca, 32, was released from the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center on Monday night after pleading guilty to one count of attempted procurement of a miscarriage. She had been charged as well with attempted criminal abortion and aggravated assault with a weapon, but was offered a deal that if she plead guilty to the miscarriage charge, the other two would be dropped.
Upon entering the guilty plea, Yocca was sentenced to one year in prison. But as she has been behind bars since 2015, she was credited with the time served and set free. Yocca would have spent between six to 24 years in prison if convicted of the other charges.
As previously reported, Yocca, an unmarried mother, reportedly filled her bathtub with water in September 2015 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.”
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. She was later offered a plea deal to accept guilt only for the miscarriage charge.
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.