Texas doctor Alan Braid says he violated tough new state abortion law

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“On the morning of September 6, I performed an abortion on a woman who, although still in her first trimester, was over the new state limit. I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has the fundamental right to receive this care, ”wrote Dr. Alan Braid, physician in San Antonio, Texas, in an editorial published Saturday in The Washington Post.

“I fully understood that there could be legal consequences – but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its attempt to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested,” he said. writing.

The comments are the first public admission that a doctor has decided to perform the procedure after the law came into effect and will likely trigger further legal proceedings. The law was written specifically to make it very difficult to challenge, and some abortion providers have said they plan to abide by it to avoid serious consequences.

Braid wrote that he is affiliated with the Center for Reproductive Rights, the group that is already in federal court to fight the law.

“Dr Braid has courageously stood up against this blatantly unconstitutional law. We stand ready to defend him against the lawsuits that SB 8 threatens to unleash against those who provide or support access to abortion care protected by the law. Constitution, ”Nancy Northup, center president and CEO, said in a statement.

Texas Right to Life, a prominent advocate for the abortion ban, told CNN the group is “investigating” Braid’s claim that he violated the law, but that they “doubted he it is a simple legal move “.

“The abortion industry has rolled back 16 previous attempts to prevent this law from saving lives so far and it could be another attempt,” John Seago, the group’s legislative director, said in a statement.

The law allows anyone – as long as they are not a government official – to bring a civil action in state court against a claimant accused of having violated the prohibition, which the perpetrator of the legal action may or may not be related to the abortion. being wanted. If they win, they are entitled to at least $ 10,000 in damages, and the law is structured to make it particularly costly for clinics targeted by enforcement action. It prohibits clinics from recovering attorney fees from their legal opponents, even if a judge sided with the provider in the lawsuit.

Braid’s admission is another step for critics trying to strike down the law, but even if it does cause a lawsuit in which a court ultimately finds the law unconstitutional, it might not be enough for most vendors to take over. their services.

“The problem is the way the law is designed,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN legal analyst and professor at the University of Texas Law School.

“A successful judgment in the doctor’s case does not prevent other plaintiffs from suing him or other providers in future cases. And although plaintiffs will lose these cases, doctors and providers will bear the costs. and fees within a potentially unlimited time frame. number of copy cases. The only really effective relief here is something preventing all future cases from being brought – which the federal government is looking for in its lawsuit. “

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a federal lawsuit over the new law earlier this month.

In an unsigned Sept. 1 order in a provider-initiated case, the Supreme Court majority ruled that although the abortion providers initiating the challenge raised “serious questions about the constitutionality of Texas law ”, they had failed to discharge a burden that would allow the court to block it on“ complex ”and“ novel ”procedural issues. The majority said its order was not based on any finding about the constitutionality of Texas law and “does not in any way limit other appropriate procedural challenges.”

Chief Justice John Roberts has joined the liberal wing of the dissenting court, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor calling the court’s order “heady” and the ban “patently unconstitutional law”.


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