Texas doctor throws down the gauntlet to new abortion law

Texas has passed an extremely restrictive law, effectively eliminating a woman’s right to have an abortion by authorizing any person to sue and collect damages from anyone who provides any kind of assistance to women seeking abortions, and completely stacking the legal deck in favor of the people seeking the bounties.

A doctor in Texas who performs abortions and recalls what it was like in the days before 1972 when abortions were illegal in that state, has decided to challenge the law by performing an abortion and then publicly announcing it.

Protesting a Texas law which outlaws abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and empowers citizens to sue providers and anyone who helps them, a San Antonio doctor said he had provided an abortion beyond the new legal limit.

“I am taking a personal risk,” Alan Braid wrote for the Washington Post. “But it’s something I believe in strongly.

“… I have daughters, granddaughters and nieces. I believe abortion is an essential part of healthcare. I have spent the last 50 years treating and helping patients. I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”

Braid said he began work in Texas in a pre-Roe world, starting a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at a hospital in San Antonio in July 1972.

“At the time, abortion was effectively illegal in Texas – unless a psychologist 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. Some traveled across the border to Mexico.”

That year, he said, he saw “three teenagers die from illegal abortions”.

“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 women who come to his clinic often say why they need an abortion.

“They’re finishing school or they already have three children, they’re in an abusive relationship, or it’s just not time. A majority are mothers. Most are between 18 and 30. Many are struggling financially.”

Braid wrote: “Several times a month, a woman confides that she is having the abortion because she has been raped. Sometimes, she reports it to the police; more often, she doesn’t.

“Texas’s new law makes no exception for rape or incest.”

Describing how women must again be referred out of state, Braid wrote: “For me, it’s 1972 all over again.

“And that is why, on the morning of 6 September, I provided an abortion to a woman who, though still in her first trimester, was beyond the state’s new limit. 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.”

Part of the motivation for this law is the desire by some to control women, to prevent them from having sexual freedom. A former state solicitor general Jonathan Mitchell, an architect of the current law, has said that women who want to avoid any unwanted pregnancy can simply not have sex.

What next in Texas, chastity belts?


  1. Who Cares says

    What next in Texas, chastity belts?

    Seeing that this is about removing control and agency from women and that getting them to wear chastity belts would empower them (until they get abused into giving up the key) I doubt it.

  2. jrkrideau says

    Jury nullification is a great thing. Dr Henry Morgentaler almost made a career out of it in Canada while fighting the Canadian abortion law. He had three jury nullifications in Quebec alone and a number in other provinces.

  3. says

    A former state solicitor general Jonathan Mitchell, an architect of the current law, has said that women who want to avoid any unwanted pregnancy can simply not have sex.

    I hate this argument so deeply. It essentially proposes heterosexual women to practice lifelong celibacy. Or near lifelong celibacy for those women who want a small number of children at the right time.

    And this applies to majority of women, because very few women are willing to have a large number of children or have a child at any point in their lives.

    I wonder if Jonathan Mitchell is also willing to practice lifelong celibacy in his perfect dream world in which women do not have heterosexual sex unless they are trying to conceive. Or maybe he just wants women to be barefoot and constantly pregnant and confined in the kitchen.

  4. machintelligence says

    Well, Texas is big (pun intended) on teaching only abstinence as a method of birth control in schools. This results in Texas having not only the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, but also the highest rate of second pregnancy for teens.

  5. says

    It’s really sad that the christian right chose abortion as a wedge issue. Nobody cares about it until the 50s, when they were looking for other things than overt racism that they could get upset about. I guess it’s not possible that they would have chosen something else, like bowling shoes or sanitary processes, to get all heated up about.

  6. jrkrideau says

    @ 5 Mano Singham
    I had not been aware of that case of jury nullification.
    It probably did not get much play in the US media but it got so that it seemed like the Crown was losing a case once a week.

    I think they gave up because of embarrassment.

  7. jenorafeuer says

    Morgentaler was obviously not an uncontroversial figure up here either; among other things, when he got awarded the Order of Canada, some other prior recipients (including, unsurprisingly, at least one Catholic priest) actively said they were returning their awards in protest. And there is at least one province in the Maritimes where the easiest way to get an abortion still involves crossing provincial boundaries.

    Considering that the real rise of the Religious Right basically traces to the sequence of cases that built up to Bob Jones University v. United States, where Bob Jones University’s attempt to continue to get federal funding by ‘integrating’ (while still forbidding black students from living in on-campus housing and forbidding any inter-racial relationships) was treated as the blatant loophole abuse that it was… yeah, no, they couldn’t have chosen anything else.

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