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Tenn. woman faces new charges over attempted self-induced abortion

Officials in Tennessee have levied new charges against Anna Yocca, a woman who is being prosecuted for an attempted self-induced abortion, the Daily News Journal reports (Willard, Daily News Journal, 11/15).

Background

Yocca was arrested late last year after the grand jury for Rutherford County, Tennessee, issued an indictment charging her with first-degree murder. In December 2015, Yocca pled not guilty to the charge. She is being held on $200,000 bond.

A report from law enforcement states that Yocca in September 2015 attempted to self-induce an abortion by using a coat hanger. Yocca's boyfriend took her to the emergency department at St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital after she experienced significant blood loss as a result of the attempted abortion. She later was transferred to St. Thomas Mid-Town in Nashville, Tennessee, where the infant was delivered.

Tennessee is one of 38 states that enacted a "fetal homicide" law. The state in 2012 approved a law that expands the definition of "another person" to include fetuses at any point in gestation. Twenty-two other states have similarly broad definitions. Under the Tennessee law, individuals can be charged for harm committed against an embryo or fetus. The law includes an exemption for pregnant women who obtain legal abortion care.

Yocca was originally charged with attempted murder. However, in March, the murder charges were dismissed and officials instead charged her with aggravated assault (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/18).

Latest developments

According to documents filed in Rutherford County Circuit Court, Yocca was served with three new charges on Nov. 12, which replace the original charge of attempted murder. The new charges include aggravated assault with a weapon, attempted procurement of a miscarriage and attempted criminal abortion (Daily News Journal, 11/15).

Rewire reports that the new charge of aggravated assault with a weapon carries a three- to 15-year jail term and fines of up to $10,000, as does the charge of attempted criminal abortion. Attempted procurement of a miscarriage carries a one- to six-year jail sentence and up to $3,000 in fines (Wilson, Rewire, 11/16).

Yocca is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges on Nov. 28 (Daily News Journal, 11/15).