The day Alan Braid opened his abortion clinic for business in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last August, he looked out at a waiting room full of patients fresh off trips from Texas, some with suitcases in tow.
Several months later, Dr Braid’s daughter Andrea Gallegos drew a similar crowd to the opening of their abortion clinic in Carbondale, Illinois, with patients arriving from far-flung states to end pregnancies.
The father-daughter duo had their lives disrupted when on 24 June 2022, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade and stripped away a nationwide right to abortion.
After the landmark ruling, 14 states banned most abortions.
Dr Alan Braid, 78, and his daughter and clinic manager Andrea Gallegos, 40, set up an exam room at Alamo Women’s Clinic in Carbondale, Illinois— (Reuters)
Gallegos speaks with a patient at Alamo Women's Clinic as her father sits behind her, in Carbondale, Illinois— (Reuters)
Dozens of clinics closed, forcing patients to travel thousands of miles to end pregnancies. These included clinics of Braid and Gallegos in San Antonio, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Braid, an abortion provider since 1972, and Gallegos, manager of their clinics, decided to uproot their families in Texas to open the clinics in New Mexico and Illinois, two states where abortion remains legal.
Braid, 78, had fewer afternoons watching his grandchildren play with the golf simulator in his garage, and Gallegos, 40, missed taking her children to karate practice.
Gallegos hugs her children as she puts them to bed at her home the night before she leaves for Carbondale, Illinois, to spend several days running the Alamo Women’s Clinic, in San Antonio, Texas— (Reuters)
Before flying to spend several days running the Alamo Women’s Clinic in Carbondale, Illinois, Gallegos packs her suitcase at her home in San Antonio, Texas— (Reuters)
The pair faced angry protesters outside their clinics, snubs from local contractors who oppose abortion and the logistical hurdles of opening businesses hundreds of miles away from their San Antonio homes.
“I don’t think I ever really thought about quitting,” said Braid, who made national headlines when he defied Texas law in September 2021 by performing an abortion on a patient who was past six weeks pregnant.
“My motivation,” he said, “is to provide a safe place for women to come who have made the decision to terminate their pregnancy.”
Gallegos speaks to her staff at Alamo Women’s Clinic in Carbondale, Illinois— (Reuters)
Caitlyn tells her mother she is on a business trip during a phone call from her hotel room in Albuquerque— (Reuters)
Daughter moving to Illinois
Gallegos was in high school when she stumbled upon an anti-abortion website that called her dad a murderer and listed his work address. The last year has put her passion to the test. In July, her family will leave Texas and move to Illinois.
A patient lies in the recovery room following a surgical abortion at Alamo Women's Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico— (Reuters)
Empty boxes of Mifepristone pills, the first drug used in a medication abortion, fill a bin at Alamo Women's Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico— (Reuters)
In Illinois, abortion is legal until a fetus can survive outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks of pregnancy, and later if the patient’s health is endangered.
In August, Braid handed an abortion pill to Caitlyn, a 19-year-old mother of two from Houston who had travelled to his Albuquerque clinic.
It was the clinic’s first week. An Oklahoma college student, five weeks pregnant, had driven nine hours overnight to make her appointment. A 32-year-old nurse from New Orleans was a day late because of flight delays.
Medical equipment used to perform a surgical abortion is cleaned and sterilised at Alamo Women's Clinic in Carbondale, Illinois— (Reuters)
Braid, 78, takes a nap in the newly set-up recovery room at Alamo Women's Clinic in Carbondale, Illinois— (Reuters)
To open the clinic, Braid and his staff had to obtain new medical licenses and move their families. During the building renovation, some contractors who opposed abortion refused to work with them, Braid said.
Anti-abortion activists resented that New Mexico had become a refuge for those seeking to end pregnancies. The state allows abortion throughout pregnancy.
In May, Braid and his wife moved into their home in New Mexico. He plans to set up his golf simulator in the garage, to be ready for his grandchildren when they visit.
Photography by Evelyn Hockstein
If you have been affected by the issues raised in this story, the NHS signposts to support through this page. Or you can speak to someone in confidence at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the UK’s largest abortion provider, by calling 03457 30 40 30 or emailing email@example.com