In a powerful op-ed for The Washington Post on Saturday, a Texas physician announced that he deliberately provided an abortion in violation of the state’s new ban on the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, because he believes a woman “has a fundamental right to receive this care.” In doing so, Dr. Alan Braid has risked being sued by a Texas citizen for $10,000. He said he hopes someone does bring him to court.
“I fully understood that there could be legal consequences,” Braid wrote, “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 he started his OBGYN residency in San Antonio in 1972, the year before the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, when abortions were still fully illegal in Texas. “At the hospital that year, I saw three teenagers die from illegal abortions,” he wrote. “One I will never forget. When she came into the ER, her vaginal cavity was packed with rags. She died a few days later from massive organ failure, caused by a septic infection.”
Braid said he still sees rape survivors multiple times a month who come in desperate for an abortion, and the new law makes no exceptions for these women. Other women have a multitude of personal reasons for not wanting to carry their pregnancies to term. “They’re finishing school or they already have three children, they’re in an abusive relationship, or it’s just not time,” he wrote. “A majority are mothers. Most are between 18 and 30. Many are struggling financially — more than half qualify for some form of financial aid from us.”
Braid is currently being represented by the legal advocacy group Center for Reproductive Rights, which is challenging the new law in Texas. The Supreme Court voted earlier this month to allow the new law to go into effect, effectively rendering Roe toothless and threatening women’s right to abortion nationwide. Conservatives on the high court wrote that because Texas has deputized citizens to enforce the law via civil lawsuits, there hasn’t been a legal test yet overturn it.
Braid hopes his announcement will change that. “I believe abortion is an essential part of health care,” he wrote. “I have spent the past 50 years treating and helping patients. I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”