Dr. Alan Braid, a Texas OB/GYN, revealed Saturday that he had performed an abortion on a woman who was past six weeks of pregnancy, violating the Texas law that bans abortion after six weeks. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Dr. Braid said he performed the illegal abortion to both care for his patient and encourage legal challenges to the new Texas law, which effectively bans all abortion in the state.
On September 6, Dr. Braid performed an abortion on a woman who was still in her first trimester of pregnancy but past the state’s restrictive six-week limit. Most people do not know they are pregnant until after six weeks.
“I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care,” Dr. Braid wrote. “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.
Dr. Braid’s clinics, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, are already plaintiffs in one of the federal lawsuits seeking to block the six-week abortion ban, called SB 8. The Department of Justice has also filed a federal lawsuit against the Texas law, arguing the ban violates a person’s constitutional right to an abortion before viability.
The law, which does not allow for exceptions of rape or incest, deputizes private citizens to enforce the six-week ban by offering a $10,000 reward if individuals successfully sue anyone who helps a person obtain an abortion. This method of enforcement was designed to make it especially difficult for abortion rights groups to challenge the law in court.
Dr. Braid wrote that he understood that his decision to perform an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy left him vulnerable to lawsuits under SB 8. The Center for Reproductive Rights has vowed to protect Dr. Braid when those lawsuits come.
“Dr. Braid has courageously stood up against this blatantly unconstitutional law,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “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.”
Dr. Braid wrote that in just the two and a half weeks since SB 8 has been in effect, the law has ended over 80 percent of the abortion care that his clinics provide. He also noted that the ban has predominantly harmed low-income women.
“I believe abortion is an essential part of health care,” Dr. Braid wrote. “I have spent the past 50 years treating and helping patients. I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”
Sources: Washington Post 9/18/21; Washington Post 9/18/21; Feminist Newswire 9/10/21; CNN 9/19/21