Yesterday October 3, 2023, marked 46 years since Rosie Jimenez died of complications from an illegal abortion on Oct 3, 1977. The Hyde Amendment had made it illegal for her to use her Medicaid card to pay for a safe, legal abortion. I wrote this poem in her memory.
For Rosie in McAllen, Texas
Her name was Rosaura Jimenez
Her friends, who were many, called her Rosie
Born to immigrant parents, one of twelve,
Lively, intelligent, hardworking
Everything America loves.
I see her dancing, smiling,
Wearing the bold patterned shirts she loved,
Swinging her little girl,
Working, studying, making do on $86 a month.
A striver—we love that in the land of the free, don’t we?
Laughing, joking, urging her friends on,
“We have to stand on our own two feet.”
She had a vision, she wanted to be someone.
Her friend, Diane said, “Rosie was someone I wanted to be.
If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be in school right now”
Her vision soon to become a reality
Only six months more to her teaching certificate,
Rosie hit a roadblock; she was pregnant.
Abortion legal but denied by Medicaid card.
$230– Demanded upfront.
$230—She didn’t have
$230 –Denied by Congress
Denied a choice, her right, her body,
Rosie took a desperate chance.
“Rosie would not have had an illegal abortion
If she had the money.” Diane said.
I see her entering that ramshackle shack
I watch her take off her brightly colored clothes.
I see her lie on the cot and
Let that filthy rubber hose enter her body.
I see her in the hospital
Massively infected, seven days in agony
Begging to die in peace.
I see the purse beside her
Holding the Medicaid card, the uncashed scholarship check.
Most of all, I see her, Rosie
A woman, a mother, a student, a striver
A friend, a loss.
She had a vision.