A doctor in Texas wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post in which he detailed how he performed an abortion that violated a new state law that bans most abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy. It marks what is likely the most direct and public challenge yet to the law and the author is expected to face a number of lawsuits after the piece was published Saturday evening. “I understand that by providing an abortion beyond the new legal limit, I am taking a personal risk, but it’s something I believe in strongly,” Alan Braid, a San Antonio OB/GYN, wrote in the opinion piece. “I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. … I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”
Braid, who has been performing abortions for more than 40 years as part of his practice, said he performed an abortion on Sept. 6 for a woman who was still in her first trimester but was further along than the new law allows. “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.”
The new Texas law, which has sparked uproar among abortion-rights advocates across the country, forbids abortions at around the six-week mark and although it includes exceptions for medical emergencies, it doesn’t contemplate them for incest or rape. Under the new law it is up to private citizens to sue abortion providers, doctors, and anyone else who assisted in carrying out the procedure. Those who successfully sue can win $10,000. Braid said “everything changed” with the new law. “It shut down about 80 percent of the abortion services we provide,” Braid, who runs clinics in Houston and San Antonio as well as Oklahoma, said. Before publishing his opinion piece, Braid was already pushing back against the law as his clinics are among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the measure.
Texas Right to Life legislative director John Seago said the group “is exploring all of our options to hold anyone accountable who breaks the [Texas] law,” reports the Post. Seago also called the column “a stunt” that doesn’t come as a surprise. “This was always something that we expected—that someone would essentially try to bait a lawsuit,” he said. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents Braid’s clinics and has brought a lawsuit against the law, has said it will defend Braid in court. “We stand ready to defend him against the vigilante lawsuits that SB 8 threatens to unleash against those providing or supporting access to constitutionally protected abortion care,” said Nancy Northup, the group’s president and CEO.