5 Things to Know About Rosie Jimenez & the Hyde Amendment

On October 3, 1977, Rosie Jimenez – a 20-something Latina – became the face of the movement for abortion coverage. It was the same day the Tejana passed away from an unsafe, clandestine abortion, one she was forced to undergo because the recently passed Hyde amendment prevented low-income people from using federal funds to pay for the legal health care service.

“The Hyde amendment was created to take decisions away from poor women, and that includes poor Latinxs,” Destiny Lopez, co-director of All* Above All, a campaign working to lift bans that deny abortion coverage, told us.

The legislation continues to burden abortion-seeking Latinxs today, driving them to life-threatening, illegal terminations or to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

“We have been fighting for a long time to be able to make our own decisions about our families and our future, and ending Hyde is an essential part of that fight,” Lopez said.

Here’s what you need to know about Hyde and its first victim, Rosie.

MORE: How Abortion Restrictions Pose a Threat to Latina Advancement

1. Who Was Rosie Jimenez

Who Was Rosie Jimenez: Rosie was a young working-class Chicana from McAllen, Texas. She was a mother and a college student who was just six months away from graduating with a teaching credential when she realized she was pregnant. 

2. The Hyde Amendment Killed Rosie

The Hyde Amendment Killed Rosie: It was 1977, a few months after the Hyde amendment, legislation that bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortions (except to preserve the life of the pregnant person or in cases of rape or incest), went into effect. Rosie visited a doctor in her hometown seeking the procedure, but the practitioner did not serve the young Latina because Medicaid no longer reimbursed abortions. Desperate and with little cash, Rosie crossed the border into Mexico, where she obtained an unsafe, illegal abortion for cheap. That service ended her life. The Hyde amendment, making it practically impossible for impoverished women like Rosie to obtain a legal and safe abortion in the U.S., forced her to take dangerous measures instead.

3. The Hyde Amendment Still Negatively Impacts Latinxs

The Hyde Amendment Still Negatively Impacts Latinxs: Rosie was the Hyde amendment’s first victim, but the legislation continues to hurt Latinxs, and other low-income and immigrant communities of color, today. According to Lopez, “Latinxs are more likely to need abortion care [and] less likely to be able to afford it,” noting that one-in-three Latinxs gets health coverage through a program affected by Hyde or similar policies. “In addition, new restrictions in states like Texas and Florida have pushed abortion out of reach, exacerbating the harms of the Hyde amendment by making this necessary care even less affordable,” she added.

4. Most Latinxs Want Hyde Repealed

Most Latinxs Want Hyde Repealed: According to new polling data released in September from Hart Research Associates, 60 percent of Latinx voters in battleground states support a bill that would require Medicaid to cover all pregnancy-related care, including abortions. Even more, 75 percent of Latinx voters in battleground states agree with the statement, "however we feel about abortion, politicians should not be allowed to deny a woman's health coverage for it just because she's poor."

5. How to Join the Fight

How to Join the Fight: Since the inception of Hyde, fierce reproductive health, rights and justice activists have been fighting to have the amendment repealed – including Latinxs. While Lopez recognizes the movement’s gains, she knows the battle is far from over. “It will take a committed, concerted effort on the part of policymakers, community leaders and concerned individuals to lift the bans that deny abortion coverage,” she said. To get involved, visit All* Above All.