Woman Attempts Coathanger Abortion, Is Charged With First Degree Attempted Homicide

A Tennessee woman is being charged with first degree attempted murder after trying and failing to perform a coat-hanger abortion on herself at her home.

Anna Yocca, of Murfressbro, TN, was rushed to the hospital after losing an excessive amount of blood after taking a bent metal hanger and inserting it into her uterus — the horrific and dangerous manner in which many used to have to have abortions before Roe v. Wade.

Twenty-four weeks pregnant, Yocca ended up giving birth at the hospital, and the fetus has survived, though not without a lot of problems.

In a statement released Sunday, Cherisse A. Scott, founder and CEO of SisterReach, an abortion rights group in Tennessee, stated:

Women are attempting to self-abort due to restrictive abortion and punitive fetal assault legislation. We extend our deepest sympathies to Anna Yocca and her partner for not having the resources they needed and in a timely fashion to access a safe abortion and without having to resort to the dangerous and often deadly alternative of using a coat hanger. These acts of desperation will happen more frequently unless the Tennessee Legislature reconsiders its posture about both current and potential anti-abortion legislation and the fetal assault law which allows a penalty of up to 15 years in prison for fetal harm. We have also read the comments made by Sargent Kyle Evans accusing Ms. Yocca of thinking only of herself instead of her unborn child. We find those comments egregious and unprofessional as no one but the parents of the child could know the circumstances which led to such an act of desperation.

Cheryl Sullenger, vice president of Operation Rescue — a group dedicated to harassing abortion clinic employees and women seeking reproductive care, as well as promoting the absurd idea that clinics are selling baby parts for “profit” — was unsurprisingly less sympathetic. Via Christian Post:

“There are plenty of places for her to go. Every state has at least one abortion clinic. There is no excuse for that. Every state has a number of pregnancy help centers that offer free help to women who are pregnant. So you know for a woman to feel like she has to self-induce there is no reason for that in America today. We all have to obey the law whether they are convenient or not convenient. If she felt like she didn’t want to drive a couple of miles down the road to the nearest abortion clinic, she would rather self-induce, then she should be prosecuted,” said Sullenger.

“There are plenty of abortion clinics in Tennessee. I find it annoying that when a woman breaks the law if it’s related to abortion then pro-aborts want to cry and say it’s because we have too restrictive abortion laws,” continued Sullenger, who said she counted seven abortion clinics in Tennessee, and Tennessee “is not that big of a state.”

Tennessee is one of 37 states with “fetal homicide” laws on the books — laws originally intended to protect pregnant people from being attacked, but which are now often used against them. The state also has some of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country. In order to obtain an abortion, a woman must go to “counseling” at a clinic, and then wait 48 hours. To boot, nearly all of the clinics are in cities like Memphis, Nashville and Chatanooga, which means that women in rural areas are basically screwed. There is no clinic in Murfreesboro, where Yocca lives, so in order to obtain an abortion she’d have to drive to Memphis, get the “counseling,” wait two days and then drive back.

This is obviously a difficult situation. I definitely don’t think Yocca should be charged with first degree attempted homicide — it’s clear that whatever her actions were, she was a desperate woman in a desperate situation that was likely only made worse by living in a state that makes it difficult for women to have safe, legal abortions.

I don’t want women to face so many restrictions when trying to obtain an abortion that they end up going this route when it’s too late. I don’t know whether Yocca had tried to obtain a legal abortion before this or not. I don’t know if she had some other problems, which seems likely. But if women lose the right to choose, if they are not able to access safe, legal abortions, this is our future.

If abortion is illegal or hard to get, women will still do what they have to in order to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Just this past Friday, I wrote about how Frank Sinatra’s mother was known for providing abortions as a midwife before they were legal. Women died from getting back alley abortions. It was horrible. That is why abortion must be safe, legal, on demand and without apology.

[ThinkProgress]