NASHVILLE — Police say a woman who punched her abdomen to end a pregnancy is now at the center of a homicide investigation.
The woman, 21, gave birth at a Nashville hospital in March, 24 weeks into her pregnancy. The baby boy, who was never given a name, lived for less than two hours, dying from blunt force trauma to the head.
On Friday, the department announced that detectives believe the mother hit herself in the abdominal area and allowed a young relative to sit on her stomach in an effort to end the child's life.
No charges have been filed against the woman, pending a review by the district attorney's office into Metro police's investigation.
In May, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks if a doctor determines the fetus is viable.
Under the law, physicians in Tennessee can face a felony charge for performing an abortion after 20 weeks without proving that an abortion of a viable fetus was necessary to save a woman's life or prevent substantial harm to the mother.
Tennessee is among 20 other states that explicitly ban abortions beyond viability.
In January, 32-year-old Anna Yocca of Murfreesboro pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after spending more than a year in jail on attempted murder charges in a similar case.
Police say that at 24 weeks pregnant, Yocca in 2015 attempted to perform an abortion on herself using a coat hanger. Her boyfriend took her to a hospital due to the amount of blood and her concern for her safety.
Two weeks later, she gave birth to the 1.5-pound baby in Nashville. Murfreesboro Police Detective Tommy Roberts said doctors advised him the boy's "quality of life will be forever harmed."
The child was placed into the custody of the Department of Children's Services.
In Yocca's case, charges were twice reduced before she eventually entered a plea agreement for attempted procurement of a miscarriage. She was sentenced to a year in jail, which she had already served while awaiting trial.
Earlier in 2015, Haslam signed into law legislation requiring women seeking abortions to receive in-person counseling from a doctor and wait at least 48 hours before having the procedure performed.
All nine Tennessee abortion clinics, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, have joined a federal lawsuit to challenge the 48-hour waiting period, among other state abortion rules.
Contributing: Anita Wadhwani of The Tennessean; The Daily News Journal
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