Monday, October 26, 2015

#MsMagazineMondays - Rosie Jiminez and Abortion Rights for the Poor

I was recently gifted over a hundred issues of Ms. Magazine, dating back to its inception in 1971. The friend who gifted them, we’ll call her Goddess, also gave me a full library of Women’s Studies books. I figure one day I’ll use these magazines in a classroom setting, but in the meantime I’ve been flipping through them. So I’d like to introduce you to Ms. Magazine Mondays!

At least one Monday a month I’m going to pull an article from one of these magazines from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. I’m going to write about the article in comparison to today’s world. Together we’ll explore how the article is still relevant, or perhaps celebrate the fact that it isn’t. I was recently informed we are in a “Post-feminist” world, so let’s examine that idea. I’d love your feedback on these subjects as well. Stories, ideas, whatever comes to mind. Share here or, as always, my email is

Today’s article comes from the January 1979 issue. It’s titled “Investigation of a Wrongful Death.” It opens with this sentence: "On October 3, 1977, Rosie Jiminez died in McAllen General Hospital in Texas where she had been brought following an illegal abortion.” 

I have quite a history with abortion rights. I was staunchly against abortion until I was in my early twenties, even going so far as to lose a good friend over it. In my mid-twenties I was of the “when necessary, I suppose” camp, though I still took issue with a few people I knew having abortions. Today I regret the fact that I ever thought I had the right to offer an opinion on anyone's bodily autonomy. I have grown.

Abortion is not only necessary for many people around the world, but more importantly to make it illegal or difficult to obtain, is to put the most vulnerable members of our society in jeopardy. Disregarding (for now) the question of when human life begins, there is forever the question of bodily autonomy. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do with my organs, and I won’t tell another what to do with theirs.

According to the Ms. Magazine article, Rosie Jimenez was a single mother with a five year old daughter. Jimenez underwent an illegal abortion shortly after the Hyde Amendment cut off Medicaid funds for abortions. When Jimenez died she had a $700 scholarship check in her pocket, enough to cover the procedure legally, however she risked the illegal procedure because she was working so hard to pull herself out of poverty. She was six months away from graduating with a degree in education. As the article states, this scholarship check was her ticket out of poverty for her daughter and for herself. 

Earlier this month Texas cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood. (Last I knew Texas still has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country, so this is especially frightening.) They are using the completely fake, and already disproven videos claiming that PP is “selling baby parts” as their catalyst for this decision. Note: Planned Parenthood is not selling baby parts!

Legislatures, protestors and talking heads continue to use abortions as the reason to pull funding from Planned Parenthood. As I argued in this recent letter to the Portland Phoenix, a protest against Planned Parenthood is not a protest against abortion, it’s a protest against health care for low-income women and men.

If this was truly about the prevention of abortion than the protestors would be on the front steps of the Supreme Court building, the State House or the White House. Not in front of clinics. 

As you can see in this article from Our Bodies, Our Selves Roe V. Wade, which legalized abortions in America, set about a huge change in the number of women dying from illegal procedures, yet women like Jimenez are still at risk, because though it’s illegal there are people working daily to prevent women of a certain economic status from obtaining this procedure. Thirty-six years later, this article is still extremely relevant to today’s conversation.

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