As the fight to end Texas’ new restrictive abortion ban continues, a Texas doctor revealed Saturday that he violated the law by performing an abortion days after the law went into effect. The San Antonio doctor, identified as Dr. Alan Braid, shared his story in an op-ed published in The Washington Post titled “Why I violated Texas’s extreme abortion ban.” In it, he revealed that he’d given an abortion to a woman in her first trimester on Sept. 6. Texas’ restrictive Senate Bill 8, which went into effect Sept. 1, bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, before most people even know they’re pregnant.
Braid noted he purposely conducted the abortion because he “had a duty of care to this patient” and that the patient had a “fundamental right” to an abortion. “I fully understood that there could be legal consequences — but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested,” Braid said. “I have daughters, granddaughters, and nieces. I believe abortion is an essential part of health care.”
“I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972,” he said. The Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973 through the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade. Braid shared that he started his obstetrics and gynecology residency at a San Antonio hospital before then in 1972.
“At the time, abortion was effectively illegal in Texas — unless a psychiatrist certified a woman was suicidal. If the woman had money, we’d refer her to clinics in Colorado, California or New York. The rest were on their own,” Braid said in the op-ed. He continued that the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling “enabled me to do the job I was trained to do.” Braid shared that “80 percent of the abortion services we provide” were shut down when Texas’ law passed and while he understood “that by providing an abortion beyond the new legal limit, I am taking a personal risk, but it’s something I believe in strongly.”
Under Texas’ new abortion ban, ordinary people can file suit against anyone who helps someone they know to get an abortion, whether that be the clinic itself or those who transported a person to the clinic or doctor, Daily Kos reported.
Instead of leaving enforcement up to government officials like other states, Texas has prohibited officials from enforcing the law and has given the power to anyone, including people outside of the state, to sue those who violate it. As a result, anyone can sue anyone who even helped someone get an abortion after the limit and can claim financial damages of at least $10,000 per defendant. The law makes no exceptions for incest or rape.
Like advocates against the law, Braid also noted that the Texas law disproportionately affects low-income Texas residents and people of color. To emphasize this point, he shared a conversation he had with a woman who was seeking an abortion in his clinic. After advising her to go to another state, she told him that even if he got her a private jet to travel, she would not be able to travel. “Who’s going to take care of my kids?” she asked him. “What about my job? I can’t miss work.”
Braid connected this with the memories of treating patients who underwent unsafe abortions in 1972. He said he saw three teenagers die as a result of illegal abortions that year, including one who died of massive organ failure caused by a septic infection.
After Braid’s op-ed went viral, multiple organizations for abortion rights spoke up in support of his courage to stand up against the unconstitutional law, despite knowing the consequences.
“We stand ready to defend him against the vigilante lawsuits that S.B. 8 threatens to unleash against those providing or supporting access to constitutionally protected abortion care,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “For more than two weeks this unconscionable law has been in effect, harming numerous Texans, and falling hardest on those struggling to make ends meet and people of color, who already face barriers to health care.”
Braid’s op-ed is the latest pushback against the Texas law, the most restrictive abortion law in the country. While it is not uncommon for abortion providers to experience harassment and violence, researchers have noticed a spike since 2019, according to the National Abortion Federation. Last year, the FBI found that this is due to a “recent rise in state legislative activities related to abortion services and access.”
A hearing to have enforcement of the law is scheduled for Oct. 1 after the U.S. Justice Department sued Texas this month, arguing that the law violates the Constitution and filing a motion asking a federal judge to temporarily block it last week, NBC News reported.
Policies that ban or limit abortion do not decrease the number of abortions, as some GOP officials believe. Instead, they restrict a woman’s right to her bodily autonomy and increase the number of unsafe abortions and maternal health problems that occur.