Target: Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III
Goal: Drop all charges against a woman who attempted to exercise her right to an abortion when she wasn’t able to access one medically.
A woman is facing attempted murder charges because she attempted a coat hanger abortion that sent her to the emergency room. This old and incredibly dangerous self-abortion method is a symbol of the things pregnant people used to do before abortion become legal in the United States.
Anna Yocca lives in Tennessee, a state with some of the strictest abortion laws and some of the loosest and vaguest laws around “fetal homicide.” Abortion laws that restrict access by closing clinics and forcing people to go through a waiting period have made it increasingly difficult for poor women to exercise their right of bodily autonomy.
Yocca would have had to drive 45 minutes to get to the nearest clinic, which may not have been feasible if she didn’t have the money for gas (or money for the abortion itself) or the time it would take to get there, drive home, and then drive back after the waiting period. She also would have had to do this before her 12th week of pregnancy–the limit in the state of Tennessee, despite the fact that many people might not even realize they were pregnant at this point.
The fetal homicide laws in states like Tennessee were created to protect pregnant people from attackers. However, they have been exploited by anti-abortion groups to punish thosse who try to abort their own pregnancies, or who take drugs while pregnant. Women who have miscarried have even been arrested and charged under these laws with very little evidence that they did anything that would have harmed the fetus.
The only reason that this woman would have stuck a wire coat hanger into her uterus is because she was desperate. Without reasonable access to abortion services, pregnant people feel that they must turn to dangerous “back alley” methods in order to exercise their right to an abortion. Abortion is still legal in the U.S., whether some Southern legislators like it or not, and people also have the right to reasonable access to medical care.
The fault for this incident lies squarely on the shoulders of the anti-abortion lobby that left Yocca without options, and charging her with homicide when she has the right to an abortion makes no sense. Sign our petition to demand that prosecutors immediately drop all charges against her so that she can move on with her life.
Dear Attorney General Slatery III,
Ms. Anna Yocca has been charged with first degree attempted murder because she tried to give herself an abortion by inserting a wire coat hanger into her uterus. She did this because she was beyond the incredibly restrictive 12-week limit that has been implemented in Tennessee but didn’t want to have a child. Unfortunately, many people may not realize they’re pregnant this early, and some may not be able to travel the distance to a clinic–twice because of the 48-hour waiting period–since many abortion clinics have been closed in the state due to new restrictions.
All of these restrictions make access to an abortion extremely difficult or impossible for some people, particularly poor women. This is likely the reason why Yocca felt that she needed to self-abort–because she was unable to exercise her right to a medically safe abortion due to unreasonable legal restrictions. This entire incident was the fault of the state, not the woman trying maintain her bodily autonomy.
To make things worse, anti-abortion activists have twisted fetal homicide laws that were supposed to protect pregnant people in order to charge women who self-abort or even have natural miscarriages with homicide. However, they’re the reason that things like this happen in the first place. We demand that all charges against Ms. Yocca be dropped immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Charlotte Cooper