39 Years Later: A Reflection on Rosie Jimenez, the Hyde Amendment and Reproductive Freedom

By Feminist Campus Admin
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Source: @RaquelReichard on Twitter

The political atmosphere is thick with sentiments from male policy makers telling women what to do with their reproductive health. We thought women had reclaimed autonomy of their own bodies in the Supreme Court case Roe v Wade but three years later women were set back when the Hyde Amendment was passed in Congress. Today, I reflect on the life of Rosie Jimenez, a woman who wanted nothing but the best for herself and her family but whose opportunity to create that life was taken away from her.

As a woman of color, student and immigrant, I fall in the categories that have been largely disadvantaged by the reproductive policies that the country has. I expect the choices I make for myself and everyone around me to be respected and moreover, I expect the government to provide the freedom and justice to make those decisions. Sadly, this is not the case.

Three months after the Hyde Amendment was passed, Rosie Jimenez, a 27 year old Latino woman, died from septic shock seven days after getting an illegal abortion. Today we remember Rosie, who died on October 3, 1977. We honor her by denouncing the Hyde Amendment which has greatly disadvantaged working class women all over the country.

In 1977, Rosie, a single mother, was on her way to graduating from college when she realized she was pregnant. She made the decision to terminate the pregnancy but was denied services from her local doctor because she was enrolled under Medicaid. Desperate to go through with her decision but unable to afford one in the U.S, Rosie crossed the border into Mexico where she obtained an illegal and unsafe abortion.

This current law hurts women of color and working class women the most, many of whom are enrolled under Medicaid. Rosie, a Latino woman who could not afford an abortion without Medicaid coverage, is a clear demonstration that this law is a violent act towards the women who are the most vulnerable and have great need for protection under the law..

Rosie is one of the first known victims of the Hyde Amendment, but we know that thousands of women are denied access to safe and legal abortion services every year because of the Hyde Amendment. The Amendment forces them to take drastic measures that lead to death, jail time or extreme poverty. It’s been almost 40 years since she died but our policies towards access to abortion for every woman have not changed. Instead of providing legal and safe choices for women across the economic spectrum, lawmakers have made it impossible for women to make their personal choices about their bodies.

Honor Rosie Jimenez by supporting the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman Act). This bill, introduced in July by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Congresswomen Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) would end health restrictions on coverage of abortion for all women providing them with the right to access safe and legal abortion.

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