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'Fundamental right': A defiant doctor from Texas opens up about an illegal abortion he provided

Dr. Alan Braid from San Antonio wanted to test Texas's newly-introduced ban on abortions. In an essay, he discusses why.

'Fundamental right': A defiant doctor from Texas opens up about an illegal abortion he provided
Image Source: Anti-Abortion Activists March In Washington. WASHINGTON - JANUARY 22. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Trigger Warning: Mentions of Sexual Assault, Descriptions of Unsafe Abortions

The state of Texas recently passed a law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, a time when most people are unaware that they are pregnant. In the face of one of the most regressive pieces of reproductive health legislation, one defiant doctor has opened up about a now-illegal abortion he provided. Dr. Alan Braid of San Antonio described his experiences in an essay for The Washington Post. Published Saturday, the essay highlights the importance of affordable and accessible abortions for all. The doctor could now face liabilities of up to $10,000 for "aiding and abetting" criminals, that is, anyone who undergoes an abortion, The Huffington Post reports.


"I fully understood that there could be legal consequences," he writes in his essay. "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 began practicing just before the United States Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision recognizing a person's constitutional right to an abortion was declared, in the year 1972. His experience as a doctor has been punctuated by the number of young girls he saw who did not have access to safe, affordable abortions. He explains, "At the hospital that year, I 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."


Even prior to the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, Dr. Braid was taught that "abortion was an integral part of women’s health care." Now, he claims, "[It is] 1972 all over again." For instance, because of the new law, most folks seeking abortions have to travel out of state. In one instance, a patient faced a nine-hour trip to Oklahoma. Although she received financial assistance, she could not risk missing work to support her four children. In addition to this, she had no child care options while she was away. This example alone highlights why the new legislation is oppressive and affects the most marginalized; those wealthy and affluent enough can simply take time off, travel to another state, and undergo the procedure. Meanwhile, the poorest and people of color will have no other options.


According to Dr. Braid, there are several reasons why those coming into the clinic need abortions. These include but are not limited to: They cannot afford another baby, they are in an abusive relationship, it is the wrong time, or they have been raped. Regardless of why someone requires one, most doctors recognize that abortions are a fundamental part of healthcare. "I understand that by providing an abortion beyond the new legal limit, I am taking a personal risk," the doctor shares. "[But] I have daughters, granddaughters, and nieces. I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. I have spent the past 50 years treating and helping patients. I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972."


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