Tennessee woman enters felony guilty plea in exchange for her release from prison in “coat-hanger abortion” case.
In December, 2015, Anna Yocca was arrested for allegedly using a coat hanger to try to end her pregnancy. At the time, Yocca was charged with attempted first-degree murder in the incident, and faced the possibility of a life sentence after she was indicted by a grand jury in Rutherford County for attempting to end her pregnancy.
Earlier this week, after spending a year incarcerated, Yocca pleaded guilty to attempted procurement of a miscarriage in exchange for her release from jail.
A press release from the National Advocates for Pregnant Women reports:
In December 2016, facing a motion to dismiss and strong legal arguments against her arrest, prosecutors charged Ms. Yocca with three new felonies including aggravated assault with a weapon, as well as two laws originally adopted in the late 1800’s: attempted criminal abortion and attempted procurement of a miscarriage. Both of these charges are currently part of Tennessee’s criminal abortion code.
Today, after more than a year in jail, in order to win immediate release Ms. Yocca pleaded guilty to attempted procurement of a miscarriage despite the fact that it is unconstitutional and a violation of international human rights principles to use this vague statute to punish women and new mothers for their pregnancies and the outcomes of those pregnancies.
This plea deal should not be understood as validation of arresting and punishing pregnant women who have or try to have abortions but rather a frightening example of how the criminal law system can be used to bully and punish pregnant women and mothers – with or without a conviction or valid law.
Bottom line: Anna Yocca is a victim of the Republican war on women. Abortion is a necessary medical procedure, and a human right. However, if left unchecked, the Christian extremists who currently dominate the Republican party will deny women their basic human rights, and return us to the dark days of back alley, coat-hanger abortions.