Murfreesboro, Tennessee resident Anna Yocca, 31, was arrested last week and is charged with attempted murder after trying to self-abort a 24-week pregnancy using a coat hanger.
An investigation was launched in September after evidence emerged that Yocca had attempted to self-abort with a coat hanger in a bathtub filled with water, but became concerned by the amount of blood that resulted and went to a local hospital. Medical staff were able to save the one-and-a-half pound baby boy, but he suffered permanent injuries, according to the Murfreesboro Post.
“Even though the baby survived the trauma, physicians said the boy’s quality of life ‘will be forever harmed.’ He will need a medically-experienced foster parent, remain on oxygen and take medication daily because of problems with his eyes, lungs and heart stemming from damage caused by the coat hanger. Medical staff also said other physical problems will arise when the child grows older.”
Tennessee ranks in the bottom one-third of all U.S. states and was listed in the bottom five states by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research on providing access to the legal and constitutionally-protected right to seek an abortion, along with Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, and South Dakota. 96% of counties in Tennessee have no clinics that provide abortion services. Anna Yocca lives in Rutherford County, Tennessee, which is one of those counties.
Laws in place in Tennessee have made access increasingly difficult, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Some of those laws include a provision to require women seeking an abortion to receive in-person, state-directed counseling and complete a 48-hour waiting period, which requires two trips to clinics that exist in only 4% of counties. Minors must obtain parental consent to terminate a pregnancy, and all public funding for abortion is restricted with the exception of rape, incest, and in cases where a pregnancy threatens a life.
A survey of women in Texas, where similar laws are in place, recently revealed that between 100,000 to 240,000 women of reproductive age had attempted to self-abort at some point in their lives. The percentage of women was significantly higher among women of low socio-economic status. These findings indicate that restricting access to clinics providing all legal forms of reproductive health services does not decrease the numbers of women who seek to obtain an abortion, it simply increases the number of unsafe attempts to terminated unwanted pregnancies.
Women seeking to terminate a pregnancy did not begin with Roe v Wade in 1973. Abortions were obtained at rates comparable to today, although far less women die or suffer injury or life-threatening illnesses today than they did before the right to privacy between a woman and her doctor was granted by the Constitution.
Restricting access to legal abortion services does not decrease the number of women who terminate pregnancies, it simply makes them unsafe.