An American gynecologist said this weekend that he had violated Texas’ new abortion law, exposing himself to prosecution that could test the constitutionality of this text in court.
• Read also: “Desperate” or “furious”, many women leave Texas to have an abortion
• Read also: Biden government sued Texas for its anti-abortion law
In a column published by the Washington postAlan Braid explains that he performed an abortion on September 6 on a woman who “was beyond the new limit set by the conservative state” in the southern United States.
The doctor, who has 45 years of professional experience, explains that he acted in accordance with his “duty of care” towards his patient, and out of respect for “his fundamental right” to be cared for.
“I know very well that there could be legal consequences, but I want to be sure that the bet of Texas, which seeks to avoid the examination of its clearly unconstitutional law, does not work,” he adds.
The new law, which came into effect on September 1, prohibits abortion – even in cases of rape or incest – once the embryo’s heartbeat is detected, which is around six weeks pregnant.
According to its detractors, it contradicts the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of the United States which recognized, from 1973, a right of women to abort as long as the fetus is not viable, that is to say at about 22 weeks of pregnancy.
Despite everything, the country’s highest court has so far refused to suspend it citing “new procedural questions”.
The text indeed includes an unprecedented provision: it entrusts the care of applying the measure “exclusively” to citizens, called to file a complaint against any person suspected of having helped a woman to have an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
This jurisdiction has so far made it difficult for federal courts to intervene: Abortion advocates typically sue law enforcement prosecutors, but in the case of Texas, they have not. no one to cite as long as no complaint has been filed.
Doctor Braid’s confession should make it possible to break this impasse. If he is sued, he can challenge the legality of the law and a court can decide.
On Monday, abortion opponents appeared to be seeking to avoid that route. The Operation Rescue group has thus announced that it has opted for an appeal before the administrative authorities to ask them to revoke the license of Dr Braid, without activating the new law.
A former lawyer struck out of the Arkansas bar and convicted of fraud, has taken this step, but his complaint is framed in such fancy terms that it’s hard to tell if it has a chance of success.
Another legal route has been opened in parallel by the government of Democratic President Joe Biden, which has filed a complaint directly against the state of Texas for violation of the Constitution.
All of his actions could provide the United States Supreme Court with an opportunity to get to the bottom of the matter.
In the meantime, the high court, deeply overhauled by Donald Trump, has agreed to examine another law, emanating from Mississippi, which prohibits abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It could take the opportunity to unravel its jurisprudence in a lasting way.
She announced Monday that the eagerly awaited hearing would take place on December 1, for a decision by June 2022.