USA: TEXAS 2 – “My existence is in violation of the new abortion law” Dr Ghazaleh Moayedi, a Texas abortion provider, told a National Public Radio interviewer several days before the decision

Top photo: a security guard opens the door to the Whole Women’s Health Clinic in Fort Worth, Texas,
on 1 September 2021, in spite of the new Texas law

Doctors and other medical providers around the state have been outspoken in their opposition to the law. In May, more than 200 Texas physicians signed an open letter saying the bill could “place physicians at risk of frivolous lawsuits that threaten our ability to provide health care in Texas”. Dr Ghazaleh Moayedi is one of those who signed the letter. She is an ob-gyn and abortion provider in Texas.

Interviewer Michael Martin: Well, you know, I was thinking about the fact that last spring at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Greg Abbott effectively banned abortions with an executive order. And that lasted about four weeks before a federal appeals court ruled that they could proceed. And I was wondering if that experience gave you a sense of what this coming ban could look like….

Dr Moayedi: It really did. You know, that day last year, that Monday, when we were shut down, at that time, that was the worst day of my career. I had spent the whole day performing ultrasounds for people, getting them ready for their second state-mandated visit, and telling people I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, that we thought the state was going to shut us down, and I wasn’t sure when we were going to get them care. And I spent the next several weeks, every night, calling people, telling them it’s not today. It’s not tomorrow, but we’ll let you know when….

And, you know, this is a story I’ve told often, but a few years ago, when our state legislature was debating a different bill – it was a bill that would give the death penalty to people that got an abortion and to providers who provided abortion, right? – something so extreme. And it didn’t make it very far. But I had a patient that week that came in and told me, “Doc, I know that I’m going to get the death penalty for this, but I need this abortion.” That is very real….

Dr Moayedi: You know, this bill is 100% about putting fear in physicians and putting fear in abortion funds and intimidating us. This law threatens my livelihood. It threatens my ability to care for my family. It threatens my career simply for doing what I was trained to do right here in Texas. You know, I went to medical school here. I went to college here. And I went to residency here. This is my state, too. And it’s unbelievable what physicians are – and health care providers, our nurses, our staff are having to endure…

I think it’s important for people to understand that this law does not come after the pregnant person or the person who has received the abortion or is seeking the abortion. I think that’s an important point to make, that this is only directed at those who aid and abet or are providing the abortion care….

Martin: Well, what are you going to do?

Dr Moayedi: I’m going to comply with the law, continue to provide compassionate, evidence-based, expert care. Last year, when the state shut down abortion care because of Covid, I knew that this was not going to be the last time. And I started to become licensed in our neighboring states. And I plan on traveling to take care of Texans wherever they go and wherever they need abortion care.

Martin: Are there any groups that you’re particularly worried about? Is there any profile of a patient that you’re particularly worried about at this point?

Dr Moayedi: Yes, I am particularly worried about the community I come from and the communities I serve. You know, I’m the child of immigrants. I’m a first-generation American. And I take care of a lot of immigrants. And I also live in a community where I take care of a lot of Black pregnant people and a lot of Latinx pregnant people. And so abortion restrictions disproportionately affect these communities, affect my community and the communities I serve. So we know that after this law goes into effect, the people with the means that are privileged, they are going to be able to leave the state. But the patients that I serve and the communities that I come from, they are going to have the worst outcomes as a result of this bill….

To add insult to injury, on 29 August Jezebel reported that several members of Plan C, a US group that provides information about how to access and safely administer medical abortion pills (though not the pills themselves), discovered while in Texas recently that their account had been taken down from Instagram in anticipation of the new law.

SOURCE: INTERVIEW EXCERPTS FROM: National Public Radio: All Things Considered, interview by Michael Martin, 29 August 2021 ; PHOTO by LM Otero/AP: National Public Radio, 2 September 2021