By Tim Ghianni
DETROIT, March 16 (Reuters) - A Tennessee woman originally charged with attempted murder after trying to kill her 24-week-old fetus with a coat hanger has been indicted on a lesser charge of aggravated assault, officials said on Wednesday.
The infant, who survived, weighed 1.5 pounds at birth and was named Leo Kluge. Police have said that his quality of life had been harmed, and he would need extensive medical care. They said his lungs, eyes and heart had been injured as a result of the hanger, police said.
Anna Yocca, 31 at the time of her arrest, was arraigned on the new charge in Rutherford County Circuit Court in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on Tuesday. She appeared via video from the county jail, according to the court clerk's office. Yocca is from Murfreesboro, about 30 miles southeast of Nashville.
Yocca's attorney and the prosecuting attorney could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
The aggravated assault indictment is "a superseding charge," meaning it is expected to take the place of the previous charge of attempted first-degree murder, according to the clerk's office, which said the earlier charge had not yet been officially dismissed. Yocca, who in December pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, did not enter a plea on the assault charge on Tuesday.
The original indictment, handed down Dec. 1 by a Rutherford County grand jury, said Yocca "did unlawfully and intentionally with premeditation attempt to kill" the fetus.
Yocca was charged with attempting in September to abort the fetus in a bathtub filled with water, Murfreesboro Police said. She began bleeding heavily, and her boyfriend took her to a hospital.
The next hearing in the case was scheduled for March 29.
Under Tennessee law, an abortion must be performed by a licensed physician and is restricted by viability, according to the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health policies. Tennessee has 14 abortion providers, none of which provides abortions after 16 weeks, according to the Tennesseean newspaper. (Reporting by Tim Ghianni; Editing by Ben Klayman)
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