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Anna Yocca, a Tennessee woman who was charged with multiple felonies after performing an abortion on herself, pleaded guilty to attempted procurement of a miscarriage in exchange for her release from jail, where she has been held for over a year.
Yocca was 24 weeks pregnant and was initially charged with murder after attempting an abortion on herself with a coat hanger. That charge was replaced with three other felonies, as doctors were able to save the child when her boyfriend rushed her to the hospital.
Tennessee has some of the strictest abortion laws in the country, and there are just four abortion clinics in the state. National Advocates for Pregnant Women, an advocacy group that aided Yocca’s lawyers, wrote on its site that Yocca’s re-indictment was unfair. “She was re-indicted for aggravated fetal assault under a 2014 law that explicitly permitted arrests of pregnant women. According to that law’s supporters, only women who illegally used opioids and gave birth to babies who experienced neonatal abstinence syndrome would be subject to arrest. Nevertheless, prosecutors charged Ms. Yocca, despite no allegations of illegal use of opioids.”
NAPW also writes that making abortion illegal or harder to access—which would happen if Planned Parenthood was denied federal funding, as is the current plan under a Republican-majority Congress—does not stop abortions from happening. It only increases the likelihood of people seeking unsafe abortions. “The arrest and prosecution and now a plea occurred despite the fact that organizations that seek to overturn Roe v. Wade consistently claim that the laws criminalizing abortion will not be used to prosecute and punish the women who have them,” it writes.
In other Tennessee abortion news, a woman who was denied her right to have an abortion while in jail is suing law enforcement officials for $1.5 million. Kei’choura Cathey found out she was pregnant about two weeks after she was arrested for robbery and murder conspiracy. She was told she wouldn’t be taken to get an abortion unless it was medically necessary or the result of rape or incest. She gave birth in April, and the lawsuit says the sheriff’s department inflicted cruel and unusual punishment.
Jaya Saxena is a lifestyle writer and editor whose work focuses primarily on women's issues and web culture. Her writing has appeared in GQ, ELLE, the Toast, the New Yorker, Tthe Hairpin, BuzzFeed, Racked, Eater, Catapult, and others. She is the co-author of 'Dad Magazine,' the author of 'The Book Of Lost Recipes,' and the co-author of 'Basic Witches.'