Analysis

Two pro-abortion attorneys put Texas law to the test by suing abortionist who said he violated it

third trimester abortion, abortion training, abortionist

A Texas abortionist recently wrote a public op-ed announcing that he violated the Texas Heartbeat Act. Describing it as a “matter of duty,” Alan Braid wrote in the Washington Post that he committed a first-trimester abortion on September 6, five days after the state law took effect.

The illegal abortion illusion

Braid began his op-ed by explaining that he started his medical career in 1972, before Roe v. Wade had passed, and abortion was illegal in Texas. Yet he still said he had been trained in how to commit abortions at the University of Texas — and predictably, wrote of seeing women die from botched abortions prior to Roe.

“At the hospital that year, I saw three teenagers die from illegal abortions,” he said. “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.”

There is no way to determine the truth of Braid’s statements. But the Washington Post itself debunked the long-persistent myth of women dying in large numbers from abortions before Roe v. Wade. As Christopher Tietze pointed out for the Post, deaths from abortion had been declining long before Roe v. Wade, thanks to things like penicillin, antibiotics, and other improvements in medicine. Former Planned Parenthood medical director Mary Steichen Calderone likewise said that 90% of illegal abortions were committed by trained physicians, offering the service under the radar.

Braid’s claim that he saw three women die firsthand would literally have made up nearly 10% of all illegal abortion-related deaths in the country that year. “The CDC began collecting data on abortion mortality in 1972, the year before Roe was decided,” the Post explained. “In 1972, the number of deaths in the United States from legal abortions was 24 and from illegal abortions 39, according to the CDC.”

After Roe v. Wade, he spent 45 years committing abortions. And after the Texas Heartbeat Act, he continued.

He risked a lawsuit, and got one from an unlikely source

“For me, it is 1972 all over again,” he wrote. “And that is why, on the morning of Sept. 6, 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.”

Under the law, Braid could be sued for up to $10,000 for committing the abortion, though he doesn’t risk jail time. Abortion groups have already vowed to defend him. “Dr. Braid has courageously stood up against this blatantly unconstitutional law,” Center for Reproductive Rights president and CEO Nancy Northup said in a statement. “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.”

Already, two disbarred attorneys have sued Braid over his admission. Oscar Stilley, a former lawyer who was convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to 15-year home confinement in Arkansas, said he doesn’t oppose abortion, but wants to see if the case will hold up. “If the law is no good, why should we have to go through a long, drawn-out process to find out if it’s garbage?” he asked in an interview with the Washington Post.

More importantly, Stilley wants to get the money. “If the state of Texas decided it’s going to give a $10,000 bounty, why shouldn’t I get that 10,000 bounty?” he added.

According to an email from Texas Right to Life, the other attorney is Felipe Gomez, who is pro-abortion and has “the goal of declaring the law to be unconstitutional.” The group notes, “Neither of these lawsuits are valid attempts to save innocent human lives. Both cases are self-serving legal stunts, abusing the cause of abortion created in the Texas Heartbeat Act for their own purposes.”

READ: Calling the Texas Heartbeat Act an abortion ‘bounty’ is dishonest rhetoric

In an interview with the New York Times, Braid said he hopes his op-ed overturns the law. Yet Texas Right to Life said “we are dubious that this is just a legal stunt” and that, if the abortion actually took place, it could be an attempt to overturn the law.

“The abortion industry has struck out on their 16 previous attempts to stop this law from saving lives so far and this may be another attempt,” Texas Right to Life said. “However, there is a four-year statute of limitations for any violations and the Pro-Life movement is dedicated to ensuring that the Texas Heartbeat Act is fully enforced.”

Operation Rescue has likewise filed for Braid to have his medical license suspended. “Because Braid publicly admitted guilt in violating Texas law by killing a baby whose life was protected by that duly enacted law, Operation Rescue has filed a complaint with the Texas Medical Board seeking an immediate emergency suspension of Braid’s Texas medical license,” Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said. “The emergency suspension is necessary to prevent him from further illegal conduct and to ensure the protection of innocent lives.”

Obscuring the truth

In his article, Braid also denied the reality of fetal development. “I tell them that we can offer services only if we cannot see the presence of cardiac activity on an ultrasound, which usually occurs at about six weeks, before most people know they are pregnant,” he said. “The tension is unbearable as they lie there, waiting to hear their fate. If we detect cardiac activity, we have to refer them out of state.”

Yet the phrase “cardiac activity” is frequently used by abortion proponents to obscure the fact that what women are seeing and hearing via ultrasound isn’t a meaningless throb of muscle or electric pulses. Preborn children, even as early as six weeks gestation, have actual heartbeats, pumping blood throughout their developing bodies.

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