AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Democrat Rep. Sheryl Cole recently introduced “Rosie’s Law” to expand insurance coverage for low-income Texans enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program.
“Rosie’s Law repeals the prohibition on using state funds for abortion care, the Texas version of the federal Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion care,” Lilith Fund officials wrote in a press release. “This bill would add abortion care to the list of services for which Medicaid recipients area eligible.
The proposed bill is named after Rosie Jiminez, a woman who died in McAllen in the late 1970s after she couldn’t pay for a legal abortion and had to opt for a cheaper, unsafe option.
In a joint press conference with advocates from Texas-based abortion funds, Rep. Cole highlighted why she thought the bill was important.
“We must fight hard for government assistance for those who just don’t have it. We have to stand together as women, regardless of income, regardless of race, regardless of personal circumstances, because we as women are the anchors of our families,” Rep. Cole said. “And as the anchors, we have to make sure we are in charge of those decisions and at the very least we don’t die.”
However, advocates for Texas Values, a self-proclaimed “faith, family and freedom” organization, say taxpayer dollars could be better spent elsewhere.
“As a woman and as a millennial I don’t want my taxpayer dollars going towards organizations like Planned Parenthood,” Nicole Hudgens, a senior policy analyst with Texas Values, said.
“We believe in protecting the woman and the child,” Hudgens added.
At present, Medicaid funding in Texas is only available for abortions in cases where the pregnancy was a product of rape or incest, or if there is danger to the life of the mother or fetus, according to the press release.
“Rosie’s law would save the state money by preventing Medicaid births and costs, however the most important motivation behind this bill is to expand services provided to Medicaid recipients in order to include abortion care, because no one should be discriminated against based on their reproductive choices or income,” abortion funding advocates wrote.
Multimedia journalist Wes Rapaport and photojournalist Todd Bailey contributed to this report.