Texas sues Biden administration for requiring abortions in medical emergencies
The lawsuit follows new guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services that federal law requiring emergency medical treatment supersedes all state restrictions on abortion in cases where life or health of the pregnant patient is at risk.
Earlier this week, the Biden administration sent a memo to state officials reminding them of an existing law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which “requires all patients to undergo medical screening appropriate, stabilizing treatment, and referral, if necessary,” per HHS guidelines. This requirement exists “regardless of state laws or mandates that apply to specific procedures,” the memo says.
Although the HHS guidelines focus on abortions performed in emergency situations, Texas officials interpreted the memo as an order that all hospital emergency rooms must act as a “clinic of abortion without an appointment.
“President Biden is blatantly ignoring the legislative and democratic process – and flouting the Supreme Court’s ruling before the ink is dry – by asking his appointed bureaucrats to mandate hospitals and emergency physicians to practice abortions,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit challenges the Biden administration’s directive on the grounds that it uses federal funds — because it ties compliance to Medicare funds and because Justice Department funding would be spent enforcing federal law — by violation of the Hyde Amendment which prohibits federal spending to facilitate an abortion except in cases of rape, incest or patient safety. The lawsuit suggests that these guidelines “will compel health care providers to offer abortions outside the scope permitted by the Hyde Amendment.”
The complaint also argues that HHS should have subjected the guidelines to a lengthy “notice and comment” process required for new rules proposed by federal agencies. The Biden administration memo did not implement a new rule, but asserted that an existing law should be applied to abortions.
And he argues that the guidelines violate the Tenth Amendment, as well as a law that prohibits “arbitrary and capricious” actions by federal agencies.
Texas has a near-total ban on abortion with an exception that allows doctors to perform an abortion in order to save the life of a pregnant patient.
The White House has denounced Paxton’s attempt to block the national mandate to require doctors to perform abortions in medical emergencies.
“This is yet another example of an extreme and radical elected Republican,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Thursday. “It is unthinkable for this official to take legal action to prevent women from receiving life-saving care in emergency rooms, a right protected by US law.”
HHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.