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Tenn. woman faces aggravated assault charges for attempted self-induced abortion

A Tennessee woman originally charged with murder for attempting to self-induce an abortion instead has been indicted on an aggravated assault charge, Reuters/Newsmax reports (Reuters/Newsmax, 3/16).

Background

The woman, Anna 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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/23/15).

Latest developments

On Tuesday, Yocca was charged with aggravated assault in Rutherford County Circuit Court in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Reuters/Newsmax, 3/16).

The charge for first-degree murder was dismissed. Gerald Melton, Yocca's attorney, said the first-degree murder charge was "not applicable" based on the language of the Tennessee Code (Reeves, Murfreesboro Daily News Journal, 3/16).

Yocca did not enter a plea on the new charge. A hearing on the case is scheduled for March 29 (Reuters/Newsmax, 3/16). Melton has said he is petitioning to reduce Yocca's bond (Murfreesboro Daily News Journal, 3/16).