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.

AP News

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.

Instagram / @RaquelReichard

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.

Evelyn Hernandez Is Facing A Third Trial And Angered Protesters Used A New Way To Show Their Frustration

Things That Matter

Evelyn Hernandez Is Facing A Third Trial And Angered Protesters Used A New Way To Show Their Frustration

@bbcstories / Twitter

There are rising tensions in El Salvador as activists are protesting the attorney general’s decision to seek a third trial for a woman accused of killing her stillborn son. The woman, Evelyn Hernandez, was exonerated in an August retrial after an earlier judgment found her guilty of killing her stillborn son and sentenced her to 30 years behind bars. Hernandez, 21, was found innocent after the judge said there was not enough evidence to convict her of the crime. 

The issue of abortion has always been a widely-debated and divisive topic in conservative El Salvador where abortion is illegal. Many women in the country have been prosecuted for attempting abortions even in dire medical situations. Activists look at Hernandez’s case as an example of an unjust system targeting her due to her limited financial status. 

 “We do not want Evelyn to be viewed as a criminal and persecuted,” Claribel Ayala, a protester outside the attorney general’s office in El Salvador told Reuters. “We’re going to stand with her until justice is done.”

While activists see Hernandez’s case as a trial against women rights, prosecutors are looking at her as a criminal.

Credit: @NARAL / Twitter 

Activists dressed in clown attire took to the streets of El Salvador this week to voice their disapproval of the news that attorney general Raul Melara would be seeking a third trial in Hernandez’s case. Many of them threw confetti-filled eggs at his office and even painted his door red with paint. Melara acknowledges their anger but sees the case with a different lens.  

“There are groups that have a big interest in seeing this as persecution against poverty, that this woman is being targeted because she had an emergency outside the hospital, but the proof is overwhelming and shows this isn’t the case,” Melara told reporters.

Hernandez’s release from prison was viewed as a victory for women rights. 

Credit: @karlazabs / Twitter

Hernandez said she was raped by a gang member and was unaware of her pregnancy until just before delivering a stillborn son back in 2016. She was found on her bathroom floor covered with blood and would be taken to an emergency room by her mother and a neighbor. When doctors examined her they noted that there were visible signs of delivery but found no baby. They reported Hernandez to local authorities and would later find her newborn dead inside of a septic tank.

She’s been convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for the alleged killing of her child. Prosecutors said that she had purposely induced abortion only to leave the newborn to die. Hernandez wound up only serving 33 months out of her original 30-year sentence before being released in February. 

This was due to an appeal before the Supreme Court who said that Hernandez should be released due the original conviction being based on prejudice and insufficient evidence. The acquittal was looked at as a huge victory for women’s rights not only in El Salvador but globally. 

“It was tough to be locked up, especially when I was innocent,” Hernandez said the day she was released. “There are others who are still locked up and I hope they are freed soon.”

Hernandez has maintained her innocence from the start that she had no knowledge of being pregnant. Now prosecutors are looking at a third trial to convict her of killing her newborn child. 

Credit: @marlasirens / Twitter

The attorney general is seeking to convict Hernandez of murder even after being released from prison. While many see Hernandez as the true victim in this ordeal, prosecutors see things differently.  

“As Attorney General of the Republic, we are responsible for the support and accompaniment of women victims in any crime and in any of its modalities, but, in the case of Evelyn Hernández, there are no elements to consider her a victim of any fact, on the contrary, the only victim is her son,” prosecutors said in a statement . “This appeal is the manifestation of the legal protection of … the life of a helpless being who depended absolutely on the care of his mother, who caused his death.”

Hernandez’s legal team is fighting back against these claims saying that the attempt at a retrial is a waste of resources that could be used to serve more important issues. 

“We expected this persecution against Evelyn to stop,” one of her lawyers, Elizabeth Deras, told BuzzFeed News. “Instead, they are spending the state’s resources unnecessarily. Resources that could be used to fight corruption.”

As of now, the request for a new trial must be assessed by a different court before it can proceed legally. The prosecution is looking to sentence Hernandez to 40 years in prison.  

READ: These Are Our Favorite Fast Foods You Can Get In Latin America But Not In The US, Dos Por Favor!

Beto O’Rourke Campaign Launches Spanish-Langauge Twitter Account To Reach The Larger Latino Community

Things That Matter

Beto O’Rourke Campaign Launches Spanish-Langauge Twitter Account To Reach The Larger Latino Community

betoorourke / Instagram

The 2020 presidential campaigns are in full swing and the candidates are all trying to reach as many voters as possible. In that attempt, the Beto O’Rourke campaign has launched a Spanish-language Twitter account. The account, called Beto en español, is brand new and will be live-tweeting O’Rourke’s participation in the Democratic presidential debates tomorrow. Here’s why the O’Rourke campaign decided to address the Spanish speaking community via social media.

Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is using his platform to reach out to Spanish-speaking voters.

Credit: betoorourke / Instagram

“Beto is committed to going everywhere and talking to everyone, even when their native language is not English,” Claudia Tristán, the director of Latinx messaging for the O’Rourke campaign tells mitú. “He learned Spanish in his native El Paso, a community on the U.S.-Mexico border where many residents are bilingual. As an elected official representing the border, he has always used Spanish to communicate with his constituents, regularly holding town halls, taking questions in both English and Spanish.”

Tristán explains that O’Rourke wants to use the same strategy of his political career to give attention and information to the Spanish-speaking community.

The attacks on the Latino community, both through rhetoric from the Trump administration and the shooting in El Paso, solidified the importance of the campaign to address Spanish-speaking constituents.

Credit: betoorourke / Instagram

“As a native of El Paso, part of the largest bi-national community in the Western Hemisphere, reaching out to and standing up for the Latinx community has been a top priority for Beto throughout his campaign,” Tristán says. “On the trail, he has prioritized meeting with Latinx voters, engaging with Latinx media and is boldly speaking out against the discriminatory attacks President Trump has waged against the Latinx community.  This Twitter account is an extension of Beto’s in-person Spanish-language outreach to voters.”

There are more than 40 million Spanish-speakers living in the U.S. Many of the younger generations are bilingual with parents who rely predominately on Spanish to communicate.

Tristán admits that O’Rourke using Spanish in his speeches is important to her and her family.

Credit: betoorourke / Instagram

“I know for my mom and abuelita it really resonated for them when they heard Beto express solidarity with the community, in their preferred language, that means something,” Tristán recalls after the El Paso shooting. “That is incredibly profound.”

@BetoParaTodos is going to be part of a larger push to utilize O’Rourke’s Spanish to communicate with voters.

“Beto understands that it is an important part in communicating with this vastly diverse community,” Tristán explains. She adds: “Establishing this online communication channel allows Beto and the campaign to regularly and consistently have interactions with voters in Spanish.”

Tristán highlights the candidate’s upbringing in the bilingual and multiracial community of El Paso as shaping his policies and campaign tactics.

Credit: betoorourke / Instagram

O’Rourke grew up in El Paso surrounded by immigrants and eventually went on to represent the community in Congress. His outlook on the world and the future of the country have been influenced and shaped by his experience living in and representing a large and vibrant immigrant community.

“In the wake of one of the deadliest attacks on the Latinx community where hate was brought into his hometown, Beto has redoubled his efforts to call out the hateful, racist rhetoric of Donald Trump, has reinforced his commitment to visiting with people targeted by Trump’s harmful policies, will continue to uplift them and tell their stories,” Tristán says.

As a candidate for the office of President of the United States, O’Rourke wants to uplift the stories of those he has fought for.

Credit: betoorourke / Instagram

“Beto is committed to engaging with the Latinx community in a meaningful way: to listen and show up for them, and demonstrate solidarity at a time where they feel hunted and afraid,” Tristán says. “Beto is not only boldly speaking out against Donald Trump and his racist policies targeting the Latinx community, but is also reaching out to Latinx voters to better address their needs and concerns on a range of issues and in a meaningful way that moves this country forward.”

READ: After The Shooting In El Paso, Beto O’Rourke Calls On Media To Call Out Trump’s Dangerous Rhetoric