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San Antonio abortion doctor who challenged SB8 treating Texans in New Mexico

Dr, Alan Braid in his Albuquerque, New Mexico abortion clinic
David Martin Davies
Texas Public Radio
Dr. Alan Braid in his Albuquerque, New Mexico abortion clinic.

This report is part of the TPR series  Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Evading the Texas Abortion Ban.

Editor’s Note: This story includes graphic details of abortions gone wrong.

Sitting in his Albuquerque, New Mexico office, Dr. Alan Braid remembers what things were like before Roe v. Wade when he was practicing medicine in San Antonio. He said things were bad.

“I remember distinctly a 16-year-old girl. She had someone had hacked her vagina with old rags and put a catheter in her uterus for her to abort, and she died of sepsis and organ failure,” Braid said.

The 78-year-old Braid said that the memories of treating other failed attempts at illegal abortions in 1972 still haunt him, and he doesn’t want to go back to that.

“We would see women who sought care either in Mexico or someone who would do that in San Antonio, and they died," he said.

When SB8, the Texas fetal heartbeat law passed in 2021, Braid decided he wasn’t going to leave Texas. He was going to stay and fight it.

The Alamo Women's Reproductive Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico
David Martin Davies
The Alamo Women's Reproductive Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico

He continued to perform abortions and wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post challenging someone to sue him over it.

Braid wrote, “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.”

A judge eventually threw out the SB8 lawsuits filed against Braid. The judge ruled the people had no connection to the prohibited abortion and weren’t harmed by it. They didn’t have standing.

This didn’t overturn SB8 but weakened it considerably. Then came the leaked Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, and Braid knew it was time to leave Texas.

“If we’re going to continue, where should we go? New Mexico was the first place we thought of. So, Dobbs came out June 24, (2022). We saw our first patient here August 15,” said Braid.

Braid’s entire practice, including his San Antonio staff, made the move to New Mexico. And he took the name with him.

“'Alamo Women's Reproductive Services.' We decided to just keep the name. It would just be easier for our patients to find us,“ he said.

Braid says Texans are still finding their way to his office. 85 percent of his business comes from Texas.

“And most of our patients drive here, and every patient I see, I start a conversation. I'll ask them where they're from and how they got here. And most of them have driven a 12-hour drive — I think it is from Corpus, for instance, or Houston or Louisiana. It's awful,” he said.

Braid said it’s not unusual to get a plaintive phone call from a stranded patient. Their car broke down and they will miss their appointment. And he said the recent Texas county abortion travel bans passed are also having an impact at clinics in New Mexico.

“They're having higher no-show rates because people are afraid to drive through Lubbock and Amarillo,” he said.

Braid points out these local abortion travel bans are effectively meaningless. They are based on the same SB8 law that he challenged and won.

But that didn’t stop the current Texas abortion ban. Braid said he’s concerned that one day there will be a national ban and things will return to what he saw back in 1972.

A series of reports telling the stories of Texans forced to travel to other states for reproductive medical care and the folks who help them.
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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi