Texas doctor claims state’s new abortion law is illegal, says he has already violated it

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A Texas doctor claimed Saturday that he has deliberately violated the state’s new abortion law in order to help test whether it’s legal.

Alan Braid, an obstetrician-gynecologist in San Antonio, explained his actions in an essay published in The Washington Post.

Braid writes that he understands “there could be legal consequences” because of his action.

“But I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested.”

He added later: “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.”

“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.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed the abortion bill into law in May and it took effect Sept. 1.

Jonathan Mitchell, a former Texas solicitor general who helped prepare the bill, defended it in a legal brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in which he calls on the court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion, The Guardian reported.

‘Change their behavior’

Mitchell argues in the brief that a higher degree of personal integrity in response to a court ban on abortions would help make illegal abortions unnecessary, according to the news outlet.

“Women can ‘control their reproductive lives’ without access to abortion; they can do so by refraining from sexual intercourse,” Mitchell writes. “One can imagine a scenario in which a woman has chosen to engage in unprotected (or insufficiently protected) sexual intercourse on the assumption that an abortion will be available to her later. But when this court announces the overruling of Roe, that individual can simply change their behavior in response to the court’s decision if she no longer wants to take the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.”

The Supreme Court is expected to address a Mississippi case in its next term that could affect Roe v. Wade, The Guardian reported.

But Braid doesn’t support a return to the days before Roe v. Wade, he writes in the Post.

A pro-life demonstrator holds a placard inside the Texas Statehouse in Austin, July 12, 2013. (Reuters)

“For me, it is 1972 all over again,” Braid writes. At that time, he continues, abortions in Texas were available mostly to women of economic means who could afford to travel to states like California, Colorado or New York to have the procedure done. He claims that Texas’ new law returns the state to those days.

He claims he watched three teenagers die from the effects of illegal abortions while performing emergency-room duty as an OB-GYN resident at a San Antonio hospital.

‘A duty of care’

On Sept. 6, five days after the new Texas law took effect Sept. 1, he writes, he provided an abortion to a woman in the first trimester of her pregnancy – a violation of the state law.

“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.”

Last Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department asked a federal judge in Texas to temporarily halt the implementation of the new Texas law.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Austin, June 22, 2021. (Associated Press)

The emergency motion seeking a temporary restraining order comes days after the DOJ sued Texas over the law, claiming it was enacted to “prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights.” 

The law went into effect on Sept. 1 after being upheld in a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. It is the strictest abortion law in the country. Critics say many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant at six weeks – around the time when a fetal heartbeat can first be detected – and the law makes no exceptions for rape or incest. 

“It’s clearly unconstitutional,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said earlier this month. “The obvious and expressly acknowledged intention of this statutory scheme is to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other Republicans have vowed to defend the new law.

“Biden should focus on fixing the border crisis, Afghanistan, the economy and countless other disasters instead of meddling in states’ sovereign rights,” Paxton wrote on Twitter on Sept. 9. “I will use every available resource to fight for life.”

The law prohibits all abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks, and also allows individuals who oppose abortion to sue clinics and others who assist a woman in getting an abortion.

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