A Texas doctor has gone public with his admission that he broke a state law that prohibits abortions beyond six weeks of pregnancy by performing an abortion on a woman. He says he’s encouraging legal challenges under the contentious legislation, which has so far resisted attempts to stop it by pro-abortion rights advocates.
Dr. Alan Braid, an abortion doctor in San Antonio, says he has delivered 10,000 babies, given Pap screenings and pelvic examinations, and performed abortions in his almost 45 years as an OB/GYN in Texas.
“Then this month, everything just changed… Braid noted the contentious Texas legislation that went into effect on September 1 and outlawed all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest. “It shut down almost 80% of the abortion services we give,” he claimed, adding that the law also permits him to be sued for at least $10,000. On the other hand, Braid said that on the morning of September 6, he conducted an abortion on a lady who was in her first trimester but had already beyond the legal limit for the procedure.
The doctor has a ‘duty of care
Dr. Alan Braid stated in a Washington Post opinion piece headlined “Why I Violated Texas’s Extreme Abortion Ban” that he was “taking a personal risk, but it’s something I firmly believe in.” The doctor said that he acted because he had a duty of care to this patient, and he did as he would do for all patients and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care. Adding the same statement, he fully understands that there could be legal consequences – but he wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested.
Since the new rule went into effect, most women who contact other abortion clinics in the state have been turned away. Those who support abortion rights claim that most women aren’t aware they are pregnant until six weeks into the pregnancy.
We can’t sit and see ourselves moving back to 1972
Braid said that he broke the law because he feels that abortion is “a vital component of health care” and because he recalls what it was like when he started his residency in 1972, before the Roe v. Wade judgment the following year. The year before, he witnessed three adolescent girls die due to illegal abortions while working at the hospital. “I can’t just sit here and watch as we go back to 1972.
The Texas doctor is a part of an anti-law group that opposes the anti-abortion law
The remarks are the first time a doctor has publicly admitted to surgery after the statute was passed, and they are likely to spark legal action. Some abortion providers have stated that they intend to adhere to the law to avoid heavy penalties, and the statute was crafted deliberately to make it difficult to dispute. Braid claimed to be a member of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization battling the bill in federal court.
The controversial Texas abortion law
Abortion is illegal in Texas as soon as heart activity is detected. That’s about six weeks, which is when most women aren’t aware that they are pregnant. Abortion-rights groups have challenged and defeated similar measures in other states. Texas still allowed abortions up to 20 weeks until September 2021, when the new law takes effect. After the 20th week of pregnancy, women could only have an abortion if they had a life-threatening medical condition or if the fetus had a serious defect.
The law does not create an exemption for pregnancies that were the victim of sexual assault or incest.
Many women are unaware they are pregnant until six weeks into the pregnancy. A woman’s last menstrual cycle is used to determine whether or not she is pregnant. A woman who misses her first period is automatically four weeks pregnant regardless of whether fertilization took place four weeks earlier.
Regardless of whether the individual filing the case has any relation to the abortion sought, the statute permits anybody — as long as they are not government officials — to sue a provider in state court for allegedly breaking the prohibition. If they win, they will be entitled to at least $10,000 in damages, and the legislation is written so that enforcement actions against clinics will be extremely costly. Even if a judge rules in favor of the healthcare provider in a lawsuit, clinics can’t collect their legal expenses from their adversaries.
The admission of Braid is another step taken by detractors in their quest to get the statute struck down. However, even if a lawsuit is filed and a court rules the statute unlawful, most service providers may not be willing to restart operations as a consequence.