The phrase,”desperate times call for desperate measures,” could have been written in a time before Roe v. Wade, when abortions were illegal and women had to resort to desperate measures in cases of unwanted pregnancies.
Times are getting desperate again. In many states, women have to drive hundreds of miles to find a doctor who can perform an abortion and often, they are turned away because of some arbitrary waiting period. Keep in mind, women who get abortions are often young and they don’t have a lot of extra time and money to be hanging around in a strange city, not working. Tennessee is no exception; there is a forty-eight hour waiting period and twelve week ban for abortions.
A pregnant woman in Tennessee was desperate. At twenty-four weeks pregnant, 31-year-old Anna Yocca tried to end her pregnancy by herself with a bathtub of hot water and a coat hanger. Naturally, that didn’t end well. Yucca was rushed to the hospital by her boyfriend when she lost a lot of blood.
The baby was saved, but it weighed only 1.5 pounds and it has permanent damage to its lungs, heart and eyes, thanks to the coat hanger.
Yucca has now been indicted on attempted first degree murder and she is being held in lieu of a $200,000 bond.
Twenty-four weeks is fairly late into a pregnancy to be getting an abortion, but she was still within the second trimester. We don’t know what her thoughts about the pregnancy were before the botched abortion attempt, but we do know that Republican policies are causing women to put off abortions, often till it’s most dangerous. Since the passage of Roe v. Wade, it’s been generally accepted that abortions are legal until the third trimester, at which point, fetuses are viable outside of the womb.
When Tennessee passed its restrictive abortion laws, Planned Parenthood’s regional CEO, Ashley Coffield, warned of scenarios just like Yocca’s. From Al Jazeera:
This bill interferes with the doctor-patient relationship and adds pointless burdens to women that do nothing to improve their health and safety. It will delay an abortion until later in pregnancy, perhaps limiting a woman’s options. And it will mean unnecessary costs that will weigh more heavily on poor women. I’m sorry politicians in our state are burdening and shaming women who want to exercise their legal right to a safe abortion, rather than honestly helping improve women’s health.
What even Coffield didn’t foresee is that it would criminalize women. Most fetal homicide laws apply to people attempting to do harm to the mother, as well as the fetus. It’s rare that mothers themselves are charged with such a heinous offense, but in Tennessee, the legal wording is so vague, it could apply to any woman attempting to get an abortion at any time. It also applies to embryos, although it’s doubtful that fertility clinics, which cater to the wealthy and regularly throw dispose of embryos, would ever face such charges.
Watch the video here:
Featured image via video screenshot