Woman Who Used Coat-Hanger to Kill Her 24-Week-Old Unborn Baby Pleads Not Guilty to Assault

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 29, 2016   |   7:24PM   |   Nashville, TN

A Tennessee woman who allegedly tried to abort her late-term unborn baby with a coat hanger pleaded not guilty on Monday to new charges filed against her, USA Today reports.

Anna Yocca, 32, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, previously faced charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault against her child, who survived the attempt; but earlier this year, prosecutors agreed to drop the murder charge and bring new charges against her.

Earlier this month, a grand jury indicted Yocca on new charges of aggravated assault with a weapon, attempted procurement of a miscarriage and attempted criminal abortion.

On Monday, Yocca told a Rutherford County judge that she understands the new charges and is pleading not guilty, according to the report.

In September 2015, Yocca was 24-weeks pregnant with her son when she allegedly filled a bathtub with water, untwisted a wire coat hanger and stuck it into her womb in an attempt to kill her unborn child in a late-term abortion, LifeNews reported.

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Afraid after seeing the amount of blood, Yocca called her boyfriend who took her to the hospital, according to authorities. Later, she gave birth to her son, who weighed 1.5 pounds, and doctors were able to save the baby boy’s life. However, the coat hanger damaged the boy’s brain, lungs, eyes and heart; and doctors expect he will have to have continued medical care for the rest of his life, according to news reports.

LifeNews could not find any updates about the baby’s condition.

Yocca currently is in the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center on $200,000 bond.

After being arrested in December 2015, Yocca initially was charged with attempted first-degree murder. However, in February, her attorney, Gerald Melton, asked a judge to dismiss the charge. According to the Times Free Press, Melton said the prosecutor in the case agreed to bring a new charge against Yocca to a grand jury.

The report continued:

Melton told The Daily News Journal on Monday that the way the attempted murder statute is worded, the charge is “just not applicable in this case.”

In the motion to dismiss, Melton refers to the definition of attempted first-degree murder in the Tennessee Code, stating that while it “defines ‘another’ or ‘another person’ to include an embryo or fetus as a victim to any act made criminal homicide by statute, an exception exists in application of this part to acts by the pregnant mother toward her own embryo or fetus.”

He anticipates the state coming back with an aggravated assault charge instead.

“We’re dealing with a much more realistic legal territory there,” he said.

Abortion advocates have been defending Yocca. In December during her arraignment hearing, pro-abortion protesters filled the courtroom and chanted, “Abortion is not murder,” according to The Daily News Journal.

In December 2015, the pro-abortion blog Think Progress sympathized with Yocca, claiming that she could not find an abortion clinic close enough that would help her abort her unborn baby.

“There is no abortion clinic in Yocca’s town of Murfreesboro, TN, so she would have had to drive the 45 minutes to Nashville for a legal procedure,” according to the blog.