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After Texas banned abortion, one doctor moved his entire practice to New Mexico

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Texas banned nearly all abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion. Since then, some providers have decided to leave the state. Texas Public Radio's Kayla Padilla met one doctor who moved his practice, along with all of his staff. And a warning - this story includes some graphic details.

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KAYLA PADILLA, BYLINE: Sitting in his Albuquerque, N.M., office, Dr. Alan Braid remembers how challenging things were in the days before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in America.

ALAN BRAID: I remember distinctly a 16-year-old girl.

PADILLA: He says someone giving her an illegal abortion left a catheter in her uterus.

BRAID: And she died of sepsis and organ failure.

PADILLA: The 78-year-old physician said that the memories of treating other failed attempts at illegal abortions before Roe still haunt him.

BRAID: We would see women who sought care either in Mexico or someone who would do that in San Antonio, and they died.

PADILLA: He doesn't want to go back to that but sees Texas clearly heading in that direction. When Texas passed a law in 2021 which outlawed abortions as early as six weeks, Braid decided he wasn't going to leave Texas. He was going to fight it.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: The Texas doctor is now facing not one but two lawsuits.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: Dr. Alan Braid said that he recognizes there could be consequences...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #3: Dr. Alan Braid opened up about this in a Washington Post op-ed, writing, I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients.

PADILLA: Braid stood up to what was called the fetal heartbeat law, and he won. A judge eventually threw out the lawsuits filed against the doctor. The judge ruled the people had no connection to the prohibited abortion and were not harmed by it, but this didn't overturn the Texas law. Then came the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, and Braid knew it was time to leave Texas. He set up shop in Albuquerque, some 700 miles away from San Antonio.

BRAID: So Dobbs came out June 24. We saw our first patient here August 15.

PADILLA: His entire practice, including his Texas staff, made the move to New Mexico, where 85% of his business still comes from Texas. Braid's office is located inside a building complex surrounded by dentist offices, which he says makes things awkward. Anti-abortion protesters wait in the parking lot, unsure who's there for an abortion and who's there for dental work. He says despite being fairly new to the area, protesters continue to hound him, and he took his Texas name with him - Alamo Women's Reproductive Services. This way, his patients, most of whom drive across the state lines, could still find him.

BRAID: Most of them have driven - 12-hour drive, I think it is, from Corpus, for instance, or Houston or Louisiana.

PADILLA: He says it's not unusual to get a phone call from a stranded patient. Their car broke down, and they'll miss their appointment. And Braid says the recently passed Texas county abortion bans are also having an impact at his and other clinics in New Mexico. These are county ordinances in Texas that would punish those aiding pregnant women seeking out-of-state abortion care.

BRAID: They're having higher no-show rates because people are afraid to drive through Lubbock, Amarillo.

PADILLA: But Braid looks at the current Texas abortion ban and says he's concerned that one day there will be a national ban, and things will return to what he saw as a medical intern when abortions were illegal. For NPR News, I'm Kayla Padilla in Albuquerque, N.M. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Kayla Padilla