First-Degree Attempted Murder Charge for Botched Coat Hanger Abortion

Meryl Woo Rice, right, takes part in an abortion rights protest near the Capitol on the opening day of the second session of the 109th General Assembly, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

We live in a culture of death. Violence is an almost nightly feature on the news, and we remember the dates of specific tragedies. I’m not so sure it has numbed us, but it certainly has made us expect the horror. From a general perspective, we might feel a lull in between violent events, but actually, brutal murder happens every day by way of abortion. This legal homicide occurs each 24 hour period. Thousands of unborn lives were snuffed out today. Thousands more will be destroyed tomorrow. But because legal abortion is protected by law, it’s given the designation of “choice” and “women’s rights”.


Too often, no one is bothered by an abortion that would legally be considered homicide is another state. It’s remarkable, the distinctions made between lives that are at the same developmental level, but are treated differently simply because of location. There is such a thing as absolute truth, and the individual worth of each life – from the moment of conception – is one.

Is is astonishing, then, that what happened last week in Tennessee would be an entirely different news story in another state. As reported by Daily News Journal:

A 31-year-old Murfreesboro woman was arrested Wednesday and charged with attempted first-degree murder after a failed attempt to end her pregnancy…

Anna Yocca of Swindon Circle is accused of using a coat hanger to end her pregnancy in September, Detective Tommy Roberts reported. She was 24 weeks into gestation.

Roberts reported Yocca filled a bathtub with water, “took a coat hanger and attempted to self-abort her pregnancy.” Because of the amount of blood, she “became concerned about her safety” and her boyfriend took her to Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital.

Well yes, forcing a coat hanger into yourself in an attempt to mutilate the 24 week old unborn life might cause some of your own life-threatening trauma. Now just think of what an abortion from your child’s perspective might be.

Unfortunately, women self-abort quite often. This may involve drug or alcohol use in attempt to spur on a miscarriage, or an attempt similar to that above. But why is the outcome different in Tennessee? Because of a new bill that went into effect this past July.


Governor Bill Haslam signed a law in May of this year which requires, among other things, a 48-hour waiting period, and doctor to patient counseling, before an abortion procedure can take place. That is an excellent step in the right direction for the culture of life. The law also included the following:

One of the rules under the law requires that if a pregnancy has reached 24 weeks of gestation or more, and a viable child is born during the course of an abortion, the physician has a legal obligation to take steps to preserve the health and life of the child.

Anna Yocca was charged with attempted first-degree murder after failing to terminate the pregnancy. She didn’t succeed in ending the life of her son, but she did succeed in forever ruining his quality of life. The boy was delivered at 1.5 pounds, and miraculously, the doctors were able to save his life.

Doctors told Roberts the child will need continued medical support for the remainder of his life because of injuries sustained in the attempt.

We’re bothered by this story, and should be, but the reality is first-degree murder happens daily in abortion clinics nationwide. No, the unborn children who are destroyed aren’t always at 24 weeks gestation, but that’s not the point, is it? If we are truly concerned with protecting life at all stages, neither the gestational age nor viability would factor in to our final analysis. But we live in a society which requires passage of law before young life is protected. That is injustice.


I hope little Baby Yocca makes as much of a recovery as possible. I hope his future, although damaged from the start, is filled with love from adoptive parents and caregivers. The crimes against him are truly egregious, but he represents millions of others who never had a chance. We only know of him because he was born in a state which does a rare thing in attempting to protect unborn life.


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