Three stories about abortion

All from Texas Public Radio, which has been doing a great job with these.

Big Bend area group plans anti-abortion pregnancy centers in Presidio, Alpine.

A local nonprofit formed earlier this year is seeking to open two new anti-abortion pregnancy centers that the group says will help address the Big Bend region’s persistent lack of maternal care resources.

The Presidio Pregnancy Center plans to open two facilities in the region – first in Presidio and later in Alpine – that would operate as affiliates of Care Net, a national religious group that opposes abortion and oversees a network of more than 1,000 pregnancy centers across the U.S.

Local advocates for the plan say the facilities, often called “crisis pregnancy centers,” would offer much needed social support and educational resources for pregnant people in a region that has been described as a “maternity care desert.”

But critics, including at least one prominent medical trade group, have argued that such facilities often provide misleading or false health information to pregnant people.

The local group’s representatives have outlined their plans to area officials and community members over the past few months as they seek funding for the facilities.

At an Oct. 11 meeting that included representatives from the state health department, the nonprofit’s board president Lynette Brehm said the initial Presidio location would offer everything from free pregnancy tests to “coaching” and classes about what to expect before, during and after childbirth.

“One of the things we learned in talking with women that have had their pregnancies here is they felt very much alone,” she said. “Yes, maybe they had abuela or mom, but they kind of wanted to have some agency over their pregnancy.”

Brehm said the center would employ community health workers to provide “non-clinical, community-based support services” that “add and enhance” standard medical care that people should receive when they’re pregnant.

In an interview, Brehm said the center would not provide any kind of actual medical care, but rather would focus on services like pregnancy training, helping women find an obstetrician and signing up for Medicare or Medicaid.

In its presentations and promotional materials, the local group has not discussed the issue of abortion at length. One version of the group’s website doesn’t mention abortion at all, while another version states the center’s aim is to provide “a safe confidential place where a woman can receive compassionate care to make a life-affirming choice.”

Brehm said the center would not refer any of its clients to abortion providers.

“We want to help that mom become a healthy mom,” Brehm said. “At the end of the day, she’s going to have that decision though, but we will hope that she can see that she can do it, and we’ll be there to help her.”

That “medical trade group” is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a group of people who do provide actual medical care, unlike this collection of yahoos with a storefront and Google access. It’s such a level of self-parody that I don’t even know where to start. But not only does this not help with the acute lack of access to prenatal and maternity care in the region, it makes the problem worse by giving the impression that something has been done. It’s a complete farce.

Texans highly motivated to travel to New Mexico for abortions.

It’s 2:45 in the morning, and the Sunset Limited is pulling out of Amtrak’s San Antonio station heading west.

The passenger train is just one of many ways that Texans are traveling to New Mexico where abortion remains legal.

Since September 1, 2021, when the Texas fetal heartbeat law went into effect, many pregnant women in Texas have been forced to flee the state to find abortion care.

Some women are able to afford an airline flight; many others are not. Driving is an option if there’s access to a dependable car that can cross hundreds of miles of Texas desert. There is the bus, but Amtrak is even cheaper and has the advantage of being more comfortable.

From San Antonio, the train takes about 12 hours to arrive at the El Paso station. From there, it’s a short rideshare trip to the closest abortion clinic in New Mexico.

Women’s Reproductive Clinic is less than a mile across the state line. Inside the waiting room, there’s a large yellow sign that reads “Welcome East Texans to New Mexico, Land of Enchantment.”

We’ve discussed New Mexico and abortion for several years now, with a more recent focus on the efforts to make it illegal in some fashion to travel to places like New Mexico from Texas to get an abortion. I would think that under the “abortion travel ban” ordinances that some counties have passed – none along the route of the Sunset Limited, as far as I know, yet – in theory the conductors and ticket-takers and food vendors and train cleaners and pretty much everyone else would be legally liable. That would be civil liability,. if the matter were ever relevant and pursued, but criminal liability is hardly off the table. Are we going to make abortion interrogations a part of the TSA security checks at some point? That may sound ridiculous, but look around. Lots of things that used to sound ridiculous are increasingly part of the mainstream now.

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

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.

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.

Alan Braid is a goddamn hero. That is all.

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