Anna Yocca, Tennessee Woman Who Performed Coat Hanger Abortion, Won't Be Charged With Attempted Murder

Aaron Homer

Anna Yocca, a Tennessee woman who attempted to abort her pregnancy with a coat hanger -- seriously injuring, but not killing, her fetus in the process -- will not face attempted murder charges, The Murfreesboro Post is reporting.

Yocca, 31, has been jailed since December 2015 on charges of attempted murder. In September 2015, police say Yocca, at the time an Amazon fulfillment center employee who was about 24 weeks pregnant, filled her bathtub with water, stepped in, and tried to "self-abort" with a coat hanger.

— Sonething News (@sonething_news) December 23, 2015

Staff at the hospital said Yocca made "disturbing statements" about wanting to terminate her pregnancy, as Murfreesboro Police Sgt. Kyle Evans told a local TV station.

"The whole time she was concerned for her health, her safety and never gave any attention to the health and safety of the unborn child."

Abortion rights advocates have long used the coat hanger as a symbol of the pro-choice movement, using the hanger as a metaphor for the days when women without access to safe, legal abortions, often tried to terminate their pregnancies on their own. Yocca's attempted coat-hanger abortion is emblematic of the return of those days in states with restrictive abortion laws, says Daily Beast writer Samantha Allen.

— RH Reality Check (@rhrealitycheck) December 16, 2015

According to The Denver Post on Monday, Yocca's attorney, Public Defender Gerald Melton, recommended that the charges of first degree murder be dropped, saying that Tennessee law doesn't allow a pregnant woman to be charged with murdering her own fetus.

Officially, the presiding judge in the case, circuit Court Judge Royce Taylor, merely "took the recommendation under advisement." But the prosecutor in the case, Assistant District Attorney Hugh Ammerman, did not oppose the motion, essentially guaranteeing that the charges will be reduced.

Still, Anna Yocca is not out of the woods yet, legally. Melton believes the charges will be reduced to aggravated assault.

"We're now in more realistic legal territory."

A new grand jury is expected to hand out reduced charges against Anna Yocca after convening next week.

[Image via Shutterstock/David Carillet]