Does anyone else feel like we keep stepping back onto some black-and-white WandaVision/Leave it to Beaver-esque movie set? Like, are Rizzo and the Pink Ladies literally going to come around the corner any second? Because it sure doesn’t feel like the 21st century—at least not when it comes to women’s rights.
In our most recent election, we againfailed to elect a woman to lead our country despite there being, again, a crop of highly-qualified, passionate women candidates who threw their hats into the ring. We still have women fighting for equal pay, for a fair and safe workplace environment with adequate parental leave, and to be heard when they report sexual, verbal, and physical harassment. And, thanks to the putridly misogynistic leaders in the hell-scape called Texas, we also apparently don’t even get to control our own uteruses anymore.
What in the actual fuck is happening in this country? Are we in some weird-ass time machine right now? Is Doc here?! Is Marty McFly?! ARE WE BEING PUNK’D?
Because it sure feels that way, doesn’t it? I mean, I don’t know about you, but to me, this this latest Texas abortion bill feels like a meteor crashed into Earth and sent us back 50 years.
But thankfully, there are brave folks in Texas and around the nation who are not going to stand for this blatant human rights violation, and they are willing to stand up, speak out, and risk whatever consequences are coming their way in order to fight for reproductive rights.
One of those brave souls is Alan Braid, a doctor who knows full well that abortion is healthcare. That it is his duty to care for his patients. And that all of them deserve the right to control their own reproductive organs.
“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,” Dr. Braid, a San Antonio OB/GYN, said in an op-ed in The Washington Post. “I have daughters, granddaughters and nieces. I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. … I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”
And to that we say, thank you. Thank you for being a voice of reason, a voice for reproductive rights, in a place where those voices are often drowned out by ugly political games masked as “protecting the unborn”—when we all know they aren’t “protecting” anyone.
Dr. Braid admits to performing a first-trimester abortion on September 6, after this horrific law was passed in Texas that essentially outlawed abortion for all.
Why risk being sued or whatever else the state of Texas might throw at him? Because he had “a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients,” Dr. Braid explained. (Just like every other doctor does too.)
Alan Braid specifically referenced 1972 because he remembers it first hand. In his Washington Post op-ed, he describes in graphic detail what, exactly, it was like for pregnant women back then.
“Abortion was effectively illegal in Texas — unless a psychiatrist certified a woman was suicidal,” he explains. “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.”
And he then goes to offer this gruesome story that paints a picture of the reality for women in the past, and what will now be the reality for women in 2021, in states like Texas.
“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,” Dr. Braid says.
It is because of these memories—images that will probably haunt him forever—that Dr. Braid believes wholeheartedly that safe abortions are a part of healthcare. A crucial part. And it’s because of the memories of those poor teenage girls that he stands for women today, and is willing to potentially risk it all.
Dr. Braid says that for the 45 years since Roe v. Wade, he’s provided healthcare to women such as pap smears, check-ups, and exams, delivered thousands of babies, and provided abortion care at various clinics.
45 years. Until this month, when Texas seemingly turned back time.
This law has “shut down about 80 percent of the abortion services we provide,” Dr. Braid says in his op-ed. “Anyone who suspects I have violated the new law can sue me for at least $10,000. They could also sue anybody who helps a person obtain an abortion past the new limit, including, apparently, the driver who brings a patient to my clinic.”
Dr. Braid knows, first hand, what’s going to happen now. Women and girls are going to get sick, get hurt, and could die. Like those teenage girls from all those years ago who were denied proper healthcare.
So he took a stand, and decided to challenge this attack on women, stating, “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.”
And what’s happened so far? Has the law been tested? Has Dr. Braid been sued by private citizens, as the bill allows? Yep, he sure has. But you couldn’t even make up the ridiculousness of this next part if you tried. The first lawsuit brought against Alan Braid was from a man (because of-fucking-course it was) from ANOTHER STATE—Arkansas. His name is Oscar Stilley, and he’s apparently a “disbarred and disgraced lawyer” (his words, not ours) who appears to trying to right some wrongs… or achieve some personal vendetta that has literally nothing to do with “saving the unborn.”
Stilley, who, in 2009, was convicted of fraud and tax evasion, is finishing his prison sentence on home confinement and claims he was wrongly convicted. NBC News reports that he’s suing for $100,000, but says, you know what? I’ll settle for the ten grand the state of Texas allows for lawsuits of this nature.
Wait, it gets better.
The other guy, Felipe N. Gomez, is also from out of state (Illinois), and—get this—he’s pro-choice! And, like Stilley, he’s got a grudge against…the legal system? (Because it doesn’t seem to be against Dr. Braid, or have anything to do with abortion.) Gomez, according to local news station KSTAT.com, was disbarred and suspended indefinitely after other attorneys accused him of sending harassing and threatening emails.
Also, guess who is NOT currently suing Alan Braid? People like John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, who has openly stated that his group “is exploring all of our options to hold anyone accountable who breaks the (Texas) law,” The Washington Post reports. But, in “exploring their options,” they are ignoring Dr. Braid for now. Calling his choice to perform abortions in defiance of the new law a “stunt” that is just trying to “bait a lawsuit,” John Seago and Texas Right to Life aren’t going after the San Antonio doctor.
Another vocal pro-life/anti-abortion voice—Chelsey Youman, national director of public policy for Human Coalition, which operates crisis pregnancy centers across the country, is making a similar choice and leaving Dr. Braid alone. Youman says that since most larger abortion clinics in Texas are following the new law and are not performing abortions, her organization is choosing to focus on that, not Dr. Braid.
“[Dr. Braid] knows he’s currently incurring liability and he may face repercussions for that,” Youman says. “But for the most part that’s a choice the larger abortion clinics have not made. They’re saying they’re going to comply. We should celebrate that lives are being saved in the interim.”
Hmmm…doesn’t really seem to be the end-game Texas legislators were aiming for when they signed this sucker, does it? The people suing the guy who is providing abortion care don’t seem to give a shit about the actual issue and are bringing forth absurd cases that courts are likely to toss out. And the people who actively fight women’s rights to choose are like “Meh, we’re not worried about it.”
Yes, you might be feeling rage that men like Oscar Stilley and Felipe N. Gomez are making a mockery of Texas’ assault on women’s rights, and those feelings are valid. However, consider how these baseless lawsuits will likely work in our favor. No one wants the courts clogged up with time-wasting cases like these. And these random dudes from other states have proven how ridiculously stupid this entire bill is, allowing for pretty much anyone to sue… well, anyone… and they don’t even need to actually have a case. Or be in Texas.
So, thanks, randos from Arkansas and Illinois, for proving just the absurdity of this entire situation (on top of it being a human rights violation). We may not agree or even understand your motives, but we’ll take the silver lining here—your actions definitely aren’t helping this bill gain traction (or support) among legislators who now see what a mess the courts will be and what a fucking joke their new “law” turned out to be.
Furthermore, we send a sincere thank you to Dr. Alan Braid, who will forever be known as one of the key players in (what we hope) is the dismantling and downfall of such an atrocious attack on reproductive rights. Thank you for testing this bill, for challenging those who claim to care about babies but who really don’t GAF about any human being and just want to control women and gain political power.
Thank you for having the courage to stand with us, and for providing your patients with the healthcare they deserve.