#Roses4Rosie

October 3 marks 40 years since Rosie Jimenez—a Texan, mother and college student from the South Texas town of McAllen—died from an infection following an unsafe abortion. The federal Hyde Amendment—first passed in 1976 and each year since—prohibited Rosie’s Medicaid insurance from paying for her abortion, so instead Rosie sought out the only procedure she could afford–and it led to her death just days later. She left behind a 4-year-old daughter and was studying to be a teacher.

Rosie wanted a better future for herself and her daughter. So committed was she to their future that a $700 scholarship check was found in her purse when she died. She could have used her college money for safe abortion care at a clinic, but she was saving it for her education—her way of escaping poverty.

Rosie was the first known person to die after the Hyde Amendment took effect in 1977, and since then Hyde has denied abortion coverage for people enrolled in Medicaid as well as federal employees, women in the military, Peace Corps volunteers, disabled women, residents of Washington D.C., Native women who use the Indian Health Service, and women held in federal prisons and immigration detention centers. More than 30 states have enacted their own versions of Hyde, and 10, including Texas, go as far as to ban private insurance coverage as well. Women should not be forced to choose between covering basic expenses such as rent or child care and accessing the health care that they need and deserve.

Rosie’s memory lives on 40 years later in the tireless work of abortion funds and reproductive justice groups across the country, who fight daily for abortion access for all in their communities. In Rosie’s hometown of McAllen, South Texans for Reproductive Justice organizes clinic escorts so that patients can safely access the care they need without harassment from malicious anti-abortion protesters. This week, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas was honored to join STRJ in remembering Rosie at her gravesite in McAllen, followed by a dinner reception with the fierce Rio Grande Valley activists leading the reproductive justice movement in the region.

It’s long past time for the Hyde Amendment to be stripped from the books for good, as well as state laws that restrict coverage for abortion care. As we remember Rosie and honor her memory, join us mobilizing in your community and striving for BOLD action to end abortion coverage bans.

To most people, the RG​V is a symbol of the tragedy of this law. To me, it’s home.

This is a guest post from Melissa Aronja.  

The day Whole Woman’s Health closed in McAllen, Texas was a sobering experience.

It was March 2014, and no one at the time knew if the Rio Grande Valley would ever have an abortion clinic again. At the closing vigil held outside the clinic, each person in attendance read some of the personal experiences of Whole Woman’s Health patients. They were stories written by immigrants, students, people going through divorce and people who had experienced sexual assault. Local anti-choicers were gathered across the street and cheered in celebration.

The months that followed — the months in which some of the poorest counties in the United States were left without abortion access — were surreal and directly affected people I know.

I was in Austin in 2013 when the Texas Legislature voted to move forward with HB 2, and I’ve seen the effects of the terrible legislation first-hand. Being in D.C. during the oral arguments for Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is important to me. The constant attacks on Whole Woman’s Health are personal. The loss of abortion access during those awful six months in 2014 is personal. Will you chip in and help me carry my voice all the way to the Supreme Court?MelissaAronja

Six months after it initially closed, Whole Woman’s Health was allowed to reopen. On that day, I awoke to texts from friends who were helping the clinic finish setting up. Anti-choice protesters were not happy about the clinic’s reopening; volunteers were needed immediately to help get patients safely inside the building, so I rushed to the clinic. Over the next couple of weeks, our little group hit the ground running, figuring out the logistics of clinic escorting amidst a crowd of very aggressive protestors from the local crisis pregnancy center. Not only were they upset that Whole Woman’s Health had reopened, they were positively furious that clinic escorts were now present on “their” turf.

Then, the clinic was temporarily forced to close again. That weekend, I organized a last-minute demonstration outside our closed clinic. We’d had enough. Only about twelve people showed up, but pictures from that demonstration have since made their way into publications all around the world. South Texans for Reproductive Justice was born.

Looking back on our first demonstration as South Texans for Reproductive Justice, I’m incredibly proud of how far our grassroots movement has come in the wake of HB 2. At the end of January 2016, the annual Roe v. Wade anti-choice parade made its way to Whole Woman’s Health. Hundreds of anti-choicers were met by hundreds of pro-choice supporters. We had enough people to line both sides of the street, preventing the parade from surrounding the clinic during operating hours as they had done in the past.

Before HB 2, the Rio Grande Valley didn’t even register on most people’s radars. Now, it’s part of one of the biggest abortion rights cases in history. To most people, the RG​V is a symbol of the tragedy of this law. To me, it’s home. This court case has the power to permanently impact my friends and family, and I can’t let this happen without a fight. Can you pitch in to help me take my fight against HB 2 to Washington, D.C.?