Things That Matter

Rosie Jimenez Was The Hyde Amendment’s First Victim, Today Joe Biden Continues To Support The Anti-Abortion Bill

Neta / Monique Jimenez

While the 2020 election is still more than a year away, this summer is giving us plenty of political action. As the Democratic hopefuls vie to make a name for themselves in an over-crowded race, we can already see which topics are heavily resonating with voters. Education and Universal Health Care are popular topics but the subject of abortion rights is setting the tone of this election.

Currently, inhabitants of the United States are in the middle of a sweeping attack on our reproductive rights. States like Alabama and Georgia have recently passed “Heartbeat Bills” — legislation that prohibits abortion after a fetus’ heartbeat can be heard (usually at six weeks gestation.) Meanwhile, reproductive rights advocates are attempting to fight back against these laws. As they protest, these supporters share stories of times when abortion wasn’t safe and legal. They know better than anyone that an abortion ban won’t end abortions; it will only end safe abortion.

With this new focus on safe and affordable access to abortion, the forty-year-old Hyde Amendment is getting new attention.

Passed in 1976, the Hyde Amendment’s goal was to further prevent abortions from being covered under Medicaid.

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Unlike today’s “Heartbeat Bills,” the amendment does make an exception in the cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is threatened by a pregnancy. Still, it is a law that unfairly targets people in low-income communities as well as Black and brown women. Without the expense being paid by Medicare or other government assistance, abortion is often another fee that can’t be paid but is no less needed.

At the time, this abortion legislation was supported by both Democrats and Republicans. While abortion still carries some stigma, the 1970s were a much less tolerant place for women seeking to no longer be pregnant. While some people have changed their stance on the Hype Amendment and abortion in general, not everyone has adjusted with the times.

The Hyde Amendment has faced renewed attention since former-Vice President Joe Biden announced his stance on the law.

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Biden was one of the original legislators who voted for the amendment in 1976. Recently, the presidential contender’s team was forced to restate his position on the Hyde Amendment after Biden erroneously came out against it. A representative for the former-Vice President reiterated that Biden did, in fact, support the amendment just as much as he did when he first voted for it.

This new attention has resulted in other presidential contenders sharing their thoughts on the Hyde Amendment. Former-Representative Beto O’Rourke, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Corey Booker have all called for its appeal. Other progressive legislators have turned towards attempting to remove the amendment in the near future.

Additionally, during the June 11th, 2019 session of the House Rules Committee, Representative Ayanna Pressley sponsored one such bill. The legislation would remove the Hyde Amendment. Doing so would ensure that government aid could be used to cover abortion costs. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that any bill overturning the Hyde Amendment would have survived a Republican-led Senate. This attempt was killed before it came to a vote but hopefully, it’s just the start.

The decision to appeal the Hyde Amendment must come down to the harm it has done and the harm it can further do.

Despite being common for centuries, abortion was finally legalized in the United States in 1973. For the first time, women were able to see a trained professional. Before, women relied on midwives or anyone willing to take the risk to see them. They ran the risk of dying from the procedure or of being arrested. They had difficult decisions to make when facing abortion. Now, they had somewhere safe to go.

However, just three years later, that would be taken from them. The Hyde Amendment would force women to obtain abortions through riskier means.

Northwestern University

Rosie Jimenez was one such woman. A single mother from McAllen, Texas, Jimenez worked towards a better life for her and her daughter. She was attending college classes when, in September of 1977, she discovered that she was pregnant.

For her, the choice to get an abortion was obvious. Another baby would derail her education and put even more strain on her limited income. However, with the Hyde Amendment’s enactment, Jimenez couldn’t afford the cost of an abortion from an actual OBGYN.

This was Representative Henry Hyde’s goal when he sponsored the bill that would become the Hyde Amendment.

A pro-life politician, Hyde said of abortion, “I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the…Medicaid bill.”

Before the Hyde Amendment was passed, Medicare would have covered the $230 abortion fee. Instead, Jimenez had to find a cheaper option. Her search for an abortion brought her to the home of midwife Maria Pineda. While Pineda was licensed to deliver babies, she wasn’t authorized to perform abortions. Still, at $150 her price was $80 cheaper than a professional.

On September 25th, Jimenez visited Pineda and received an abortion within her home.

The young mother spiked a fever by the next morning. Jimenez began hemorrhaging and vomiting as a side effect of an infection she developed. During an abortion, dirt and germs can be introduced via unsanitary instruments or improper hygiene. This a major concern that arises when proper reproductive health is withheld from women as it was with Jimenez.

The young mother was rushed to McAllen General Hospital where she would spend seven days fighting for her life. She could no longer breath on her own so Jimenez was given an emergency tracheotomy. Also, the infection ravaged her uterus severely. She was given a hysterectomy in an attempt to stop the spread of bacteria.

Sadly, the damaged had been done. The infection had spread to her heart and other organs. Rosie Jimenez was only 27 when she died of organ failure. It was caused by the infection contracted from her abortion.

Jimenez’s death greatly affected her friends and family, but it also had a national impact.

Instagram / @ballyhootoronto

Once her story spread, candlelit vigils were held all over the country for Jimenez. Rallies were organized in New York and Washington DC denouncing Congress and the federal government for limiting access to safe and legal abortion. Though there were other instances like this one, none had resulted in death. As such, Jimenez was known as the “first victim” of the Hyde Amendment.

As pro-choice advocates shared Jimenez’s story, conservatives used it to condemn abortion in general. A 1977 investigation by the CDC mistakenly claimed that Jimenez got an illegal abortion in Mexico. The media circulated rumors that she had attempted to hide her pregnancy from family members. They claimed that this botched “Mexican” abortion was a result of her concealment.

In fact, Jimenez was receiving more bad press than the woman who performed her abortion.

Instagram / @latina

The woman, Pineda, didn’t even face charges for what she had done. She was free to continue selling hope to desperate women at a discount. She was free to infect and kill others who came to her for help.

It wasn’t until Jimenez’s best friend, Diane Rivera, got involved that anything was done. New York writer, Ellen Frankfort, and National Abortion Federation director, Frances Kissling, worked with Rivera to stop Pineda. The three performed an undercover sting operation that caught the illegal abortionist red-handed.

However, even with evidence of her crimes, Pineda was only charged with a Class A misdemeanor. She served a mere three days in jail and paid a $100 fine. That’s the only penalty she paid for killing Rosie Jimenez. Additionally, there was no follow-up to ensure Pineda didn’t operate again.

Rosie Jimenez’s story is one that reproductive rights champions have been echoing for over forty years. We must acknowledge that the Hyde Amendment was specifically designed to discourage safe abortions. It was outlined to hurt women like Jimenez — women who are poor and brown and who deserve better.

For every woman who is able to end her pregnancy without fear and suffering, there are more who will face the same fate as Jimenez. Until there is a guarantee of safe, legal and affordable abortion, our work is not done.

Puerto Rican Women Are Finding It Difficult To Access Abortion Related Health Care Putting Their Health At Risk

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Puerto Rican Women Are Finding It Difficult To Access Abortion Related Health Care Putting Their Health At Risk

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For those of you who may have been living under a rock, or just genuinely can’t keep up with the news now that there’s usually a new catastrophe or political gaffe from the Trump administration on a daily basis, it’s probably a good idea to recap what happened around Hurricane Maria.

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, devastating the region and sparking an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. While recovery efforts have been in the works, abortion care has been largely ignored by authorities, leading to another set of problems that need to be addressed before Puerto Rico can really say that it’s moved on from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Granted: there’s so much more to consider than just simply boosting abortion facilities in Puerto Rico.

According to a 2008 study in the Journal of Population Economics, birth rates increase in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

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Let’s face it, anyone put in the same position would agree: if there’s no access to power, no way of really going anywhere, and there are zero things to do otherwise … you’re gonna have sex. Even though the world is pretty much falling apart around you! Part of the risks of this behavior, beyond focusing on bonking rather than safety awareness during a natural disaster, is the fact that condoms and other contraceptives aren’t necessarily readily accessible in this time. It means that if you’re not intending on getting pregnant, then this situation could put you in perilous circumstances.

The lack of regional resources after a natural disaster is not only hard af for new families – it’s also hard on people who are seeking ways to terminate their pregnancy. Where Puerto Rico is concerned, of the six abortion clinics on the main island, only one was in operation in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. However, it took nine days for that single clinic to get its doors open again. And from there, the damage from the cataclysmic storms meant that the centre didn’t have two air conditioning units or its heating system, and it had to run on a generator for three months. Because power was so expensive at this time, it meant that the clinic also had to cut its hours of operation. And if you think this is bad – that’s just the trials and tribulations of one clinic. Imagine the difficulty in trying to get others open.

Sure, there’s a problem. But aren’t there more important things to deal with in Puerto Rico, first?

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Recovery from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has been mighty slow. In fact, it took an entire year for power to be restored to the region. Poor sanitation in the area led to the spread of water-borne sicknesses, while spoiled food and contaminated drinking water also harmed the population. Pests and bugs further caused havoc and spread disease, in addition to mold and mildew. Not to mention the fact that cleanup activities also introduced further hazards to locals, and opened the potential for further injury and infections. Natural disasters are associated with a decline in the mental health of a population, too, meaning that psychological services are in dire need in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. 

At this point, you’re probably thinking, ‘why are we worried about access to abortion care when there are so many other, more urgent, things to think about’? And sure, you’re not entirely wrong. But the reality is that access to healthcare services in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria is crucial for reducing further loss of human life. And that healthcare must be holistic. Because while healthcare is great for recovery from injuries and treating disease, these are reactive measures to the issue at hand. Family planning and abortion care fall into the category of preventative measures, to ensure that the unintended pregnancies don’t place further stress on very limited services and resources.

The issues we’re seeing now are part of bigger, systemic problems that must be addressed for Puerto Rico’s wellbeing.

Credit: aaron.fernandes476 / Instagram

As an unincorporated territory of the US, it stands to reason that Puerto Rico should have received considerable support from Washington DC. While no-one could forget the classic shot of Donald Trump basketball-shooting paper towels into a crowd of disaster-stricken Puerto Ricans, it’s been argued that the region was, overall, lacking in support and attention from the administration. And this criticism wasn’t a new thing. Puerto Rico’s been dealing with the Zika epidemic, which affected 1 in 7 newborns between 2016 and 2018, while also contending with the shutdown of 66 of 69 major hospitals in the region due to Hurricane Maria. It also has the highest poverty rate over any US state, while also getting less money and resource from the federal government for health programs. Yikes.

This raises questions around Puerto Rico’s representation in Washington: as it is not a state, it doesn’t have a vote in Congress. And, it only has one non-voting member of the House, known as a Resident Commissioner. Who knows what kind of improvements in assistance could have been made for Puerto Rico, if it had the right kind of political representation?

Beyond the federal level, Puerto Rico must also contend with the rise of conservatism.

Credit: senadora_naydavenegasbrownp / Instgram

Pushback against access to family planning services, which largely draws from pervasive religious doctrine, has risen in recent years. For example, 2018 saw a really aggressive attempts to restrict abortion access in Puerto Rico. While the Senator responsible for the bill, Nayda Venegas Brown, eventually pulled it from consideration, it was designed to institute a mandatory 48-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions, parental consent for minors, and a ban on the procedure outright after 20 weeks gestation. And sure, while these may seem like pretty common laws for those living on mainland US, these kinds of restrictions are basically unheard of in Puerto Rico.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, these kinds of limitations would add even more complexity to unwanted pregnancies in Puerto Rico. For example, without access to appropriate healthcare services, people may not have even known about their pregnancy until much later in their gestational cycle. Another thing to consider is that, should there be complications in the pregnancy, women may have their lives further jeopardized by restrictions on performing abortions. And, minors who may not be in contact with their parents would then become dependent on those same parents to access an abortion. Indeed, it is fortunate that Puerto Ricans were not subject to such blanket laws – particularly while they’re still dealing with the repercussions of Hurricane Maria.

So, for those of you sitting at home wondering what you can do about the predicament facing Puerto Rico, you’ve got a few options. It’s worth investigating charities in your local area that are dedicated towards providing support to Puerto Rico. Voting for candidates in the 2020 elections that have proposed policies to support Puerto Rico is also crucial. Additionally, improving awareness about women’s rights by sharing accurate information on social media – like this piece – can help break down the stigma around family planning.

Despite A Video, Mike Pence Attempts To Minimize The Horrendous Conditions In Detention Centers

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Despite A Video, Mike Pence Attempts To Minimize The Horrendous Conditions In Detention Centers

@jdawsey1 / Twitter

After hundreds of organized protests around the country, we would hope the Trump administration would send someone to a detention center in a sincere effort to address the problem. Instead, Vice President Mike Pence was sent in a political move to combat the assertions of Democratic Congress members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib from their visit.

Reporters were allowed into the detention facility for 90 precious seconds. Pence wasn’t able to maintain his initial statement once he saw the unsanitary conditions migrants were kept in.

“What people are going to see is not the situation many Democrats have described,” Pence told reporters on Thursday.

Credit: @VP / Twitter

His full statement was actually this: “What people are going to see is not the situation many Democrats have described, but actually a situation where our CBP agents are providing humanitarian care, health care, shelter, food, sustenance in a way that would make the American people proud.

But afterward, he said, “I was not surprised by what I saw. I knew we’d see a system that was overwhelmed.”

Credit: @jdawsey1 / Twitter

While he wasn’t able to reiterate that the conditions would “make the American people proud,” or offer any hope that he or his administration would do anything about it, he did try to blame Democrats for the conditions.

“The DHS facility in McAllen is a prime example of why we need to secure our borders,” he tweeted out after the visit. “The facility is overcrowded and our system is overwhelmed. It is time for Democrats in Congress to step up, do their jobs, and end this crisis.”

White House pool reporter Josh Dawsey was only allowed in for 90 seconds, and this is what he saw.

Credit: @jdawsey1 / Twitter

Dawsey said “the cages were so crowded that it would have been impossible for all of the men to lie on the concrete. There were 384 single men in the portal who allegedly crossed the border illegally. There were no mats or pillows—some of the men were sleeping on concrete.”

Agents were seen guarding the cages wearing face masks.

Credit: @jdawsey1 / Twitter

That’s likely because Dawsey reports that “the stench was overwhelming.” After talking with some of the people, they told him that they hadn’t showered in weeks. They wanted toothbrushes and food. In response, CBP said, “They were fed regularly, could brush daily & recently got access to shower.” Dawsey followed that up with asserting that “many hadn’t [showered] for 10-20 days.”

Reporters didn’t feel any air conditioning in a room where the outside temperature was already 97°F.

Credit: @passantino / Twitter

CBP said it was air-conditioned but Dawsey reports that the “heat was sweltering.” The facility doesn’t have a shower, but CBP says they all showered the day before “in an outdoor trailer.” What CBP told reporters directly contradicts much of what the migrants themselves had a chance to report to the outside world.

For example, CBP told reporters that nobody had been there longer than 32 days, but this man told reporters he had been there for 40 days.

Credit: @jdawsey1 / Twitter

He wasn’t the only one who told reporters that they’d been there longer. The migrants told reporters they wanted to brush their teeth and were hungry. CBP told reporters they brush their teeth daily and are fed three times a day. In Dawsey’s own words, the “stench was horrendous. CPB said it was cleaned 3x a day.” 

This is the scene that Vice President Pence saw.

Credit: @jdawsey1 / Twitter

When migrants told reporters they were thirsty, CBP said the water was outside the fence and that they could leave the barrier to get water after the press left. 

But this is the image he tweeted out to his followers.

Credit: @VP / Twitter

Conveniently, this image seems to have chairs. What Pence was directly staring at much of the time was human beings sleeping on concrete, in an environment so foul CBP agents were wearing face masks.

Dawsey reported that the children’s facility was “new and relatively clean and empty.”

Credit: @VP / Twitter

“There were cots & medical supplies & snacks,” Dawsey tweeted. “Children watched TV and told Pence through translator they were being taken care of. But at least two said they’d walked for months to get here.”

Is America proud yet?

@jdawsey1 / Twitter

The people in this image allegedly crossed the border illegally. We don’t know if they claimed asylum. We don’t know if these are people who have broken the law because they are effectively jailed without trial, in conditions worse than jail

Trump is the man behind it all. It was he who decided to enact a policy that, instead of allowing asylum seekers to set up roots in American society while awaiting trial, to detain them in facilities that are overcrowded with a judicial system that is backlogged.

Watch the video below of migrants letting reporters know what has happened to them in detention.

READ: Woman Pays The Bond Of A Woman Being Held In ICE Detention Center And The Internet Is Living For This Moment Of Kindness

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