Signaling continued fight, abortion advocates hold demonstration in McAllen

Advocates with Frontera Fund, South Texans for Reproductive Justice, and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice hold illuminated signs Tuesday night, Sept. 27, 2022, outside McAllen City Hall. (Monitor Photo)

McALLEN — Come Monday, it will be 45 years since McAllen resident Rosaura “Rosie” Jimenez died because she was denied a legal abortion.

A college student at the time, Jimenez, was denied insurance coverage for a legal abortion with medical supervision because of what is known as the Hyde Amendment.

The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funding for abortion which essentially means people enrolled in Medicaid or other federal programs cannot pay for an abortion through that insurance.

The policy was first approved by Congress in 1976 and Jimenez was its first victim.

After acquiring an infection from an illegal abortion, she sought treatment at the McAllen Municipal Hospital where she died at the age of 27.

McAllen Municipal Hospital is now the McAllen City Hall and it is where, on Tuesday, abortion rights advocates held a demonstration as a display of their continued fight for abortion access.

Advocates with Frontera Fund, South Texans for Reproductive Justice, and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice held illuminated signs that spelled out the message “#ABORTIONJUSTICE.”

The signs were provided by All* Above All, a national pro-abortion group whose members first displayed the signs in front of city hall before handing them off to the members of the other organizations.

“This week, All Above All is doing an abortion justice campaign just really acknowledging that abotion goes beyond health care,” said Cathy Torres, the organizing manager at Frontera Fund, “it encompasses different intersections — whether it be immigrant justice, economic justice — and just highlighting that there’s so many barriers that make abortion justice not possible and we’re here to highlight that there’s a need for it.”

Since abortions were outlawed in Texas following the Dobbs v. Jackson decision by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer, organizations like Frontera Fund which provided financial aid for abortion-related expenses, have ceased providing those services.

“Currently, we are not funding abortion or travel care just because of the different legal repercussions that are at play,” Torres said. “However, our helpline is still open. We’re still helping people get information and resources that they need, should they need abortion care outside of the state, but also connecting people to different reproductive healthcare services.”

Frontera Fund and other organizations that provide financial assistance for abortions are currently suing the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

In their lawsuit, they argue that threats of legal action for assisting people obtain abortions that are made against them under Texas’s anti-abortion laws violates their First Amendment rights.

“Texas state actors threaten criminal prosecution of Plaintiffs, their staff, volunteers, and donors under both the Trigger Ban and the Pre-Roe statutes,” the lawsuit states. “If these statutes are construed as expansively as asserted by Texas state actors (including the Attorney General) both sets of laws violate the constitutional rights of Plaintiffs, their staff, volunteers, and donors.”

During a hearing held in federal court on Tuesday, the judge in the case granted a motion to quash the subpoena for Attorney General Ken Paxton to testify in the case. The abortion groups are now asking the judge to reconsider.

“We’re still fighting, we’re going to keep fighting, and we’re not going to abandon our communities like Ken Paxton did,” Torres said, referring to reports that Paxton fled his home to avoid being served the subpoena. The details of his departure were detailed in an affidavit from the process server who attempted to serve Paxton.

Sol Meztli Garcia, a community organizer for Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, echoed the message of the continued fight for abortion rights.

“We’re here showing that we’re going to come together in solidarity and community and we’re going to fight back,” Garcia said. “We’re definitely here to make some noise and we’re here to fight back and we’ll prove that in November.”