AUSTIN, Texas – Rosie Jimenez of McAllen, Texas, was one semester away from graduating from college when she died in 1977. The 27-year-old mother and aspiring teacher died after requesting an abortion from a dangerous source. She was Texas’ first known victim after the U.S. Congress passed the Hyde Amendment in 1976, which prohibited federal funding to pay for abortions through Medicaid.
The amendment was the subject of political volleys at the national and state levels this week. On Tuesday, 200 House Republicans signed a letter pledging to protect the amendment. The action by lawmakers came days after Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, called for its repeal in a January 22 tweet that said 48 years later Roe V. Wade became law, “systematic barriers to accessing abortion and other reproductive health care still exist.”
On the same day, Conservative lawmakers signed their letter, State Representative Sheryl Cole (D-Austin) and State Senator Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin) tabled identical legislation in each chamber of the legislature. of Texas to restore health insurance coverage for abortions in Texas. . Bill is named to honor the life of Rosaura “Rosie” Jimenez. The bill that bears his name marks the first time this bill has been introduced in both the House and the Senate.
Abortion and women’s reproductive rights have been under siege in Texas over the past two legislative sessions, advocates say. In 2017, Texas banned insurers from including abortion coverage in a comprehensive health insurance plan, requiring women to purchase separate coverage for abortion care. In 2019, Texas passed House Bill 16, which criminalizes abortion providers who fail to provide medical treatment to a fetus if it is born after an abortion.
Rosie’s Law would add abortion coverage to the Medicaid and private insurance coverage pools, according to Representative Cole, the author of the bill.
“A lot of people don’t know that you aren’t able to access abortion care using your private insurance,” she told a Zoom press conference. “So this year we’re really trying to use Rosie’s Law to help everyone and to make abortion coverage clear, whether it’s private care through their own insurance or a public insurance through Medicaid. “
The legislation is advanced by three abortion rights groups, La Frontera Fund, which provides support and funding for abortions in the Rio Grande Valley; the Lilith Fund, which provides the same services in South Texas; and Texas Equal Access Fund, which provides funds and advocates for access to safe abortions in North Texas.
During the press conference, Senator Eckhardt cited various studies to support her claims that restricting access to abortion forces 1 in 4 women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term and pushes people to income even more in poverty.
“When anti-abortion politicians rob a person of the ability to make the health decisions that are best suited to their individual situation, they put the health and safety of Texans at risk,” she said. Restricting abortions, she continued, “has a disproportionate impact on Texans who are already marginalized by our health care system, including those in financial difficulty, immigrants, people of color and their families, individuals. transgender and youth. Texans should have the freedom to chart their own path and make personal health decisions without government interference. “
Quinnipiac University poll shows 62% of voters in Texas agree with the Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that overturned abortion restrictions. In a state where conservative Republicans have pushed for a complete ban on abortion in recent years, polling shows only 11% of voters in Texas support that position. The state has attempted to ban the most common second trimester abortion procedure and recently passed a law requiring health clinics to bury or cremate fetal remains after an abortion or miscarriage. Both laws are being challenged in court.
The average Texas abortion costs around $ 500. In Texas, 1 in 3 women of childbearing age have private insurance but cannot use it for an abortion.
Nancy Cardenas Peña, board member of the La Frontera Fund, director of policy and advocacy in Texas at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice and host of the Zoom appeal, said this law was in place in 1977, Rosie Jimenez would still be here today.
“The truth is, abortion is an incredibly safe procedure,” she said. “It’s only the unnecessary barriers erected by anti-abortion politicians that make people dangerous. We deserve better today. We celebrate the historic introduction of the Rosie Law and call on lawmakers to listen to the majority of Texans who support Medicaid abortion coverage and who will support them if they support Rosie Law.