Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration on Thursday after the White House issued new guidance requiring doctors to perform abortions when medically necessary under federal law, key in the federal government’s attempt to weaken the impact of state abortion bans one of the ways. Overturn Roe v. Wade.
Texas filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and other federal health officials in federal court over HHS guidelines that say doctors “must provide” abortions if patients “require stable care.” Is undergoing a medical emergency.
HHS cited the Emergency Medical Care and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires hospitals to treat patients with emergency medical conditions, and said the law takes precedence over state law, meaning doctors must Have an abortion procedurally.
If they don’t follow guidance, hospitals risk fines or no longer being able to participate in Medicare and Medicaid.
Texas argues that EMTALA has no clear protections for abortion, while HHS claims it is illegal and oversteps its authority, and is asking the court to block the guidance.
Texas, one of the states with an abortion ban, argued that the guidelines violated its state authority and forced hospitals to “choose between violating state law and facing criminal penalties or jeopardizing their ability to participate in Medicaid.”
HHS has not responded to a request for comment.
“There is no federal statute granting the right to abortion,” the lawsuit said. “EMTALA is no exception.”
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The lawsuit will be played in federal court in the Northern District of Texas under Judge James Wesley Hendricks, appointed by President Donald Trump.
HHS’s guidance to doctors on abortion is part of the Biden administration’s broader response to the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade. The White House also announced measures such as a new federal task force and required pharmacies to prescribe drugs that can terminate pregnancy because they also May cause miscarriage. However, the government can only go so far in protecting abortion rights, because the Supreme Court ruling gives states the power to ban abortion procedures that the executive branch has no power to prevent. Congress can still pass legislation that goes beyond state bans, however, and President Joe Biden has directed Americans to vote in midterm elections for a Democratic majority in Congress that can be protected through federal abortion protection. HHS issued guidelines for abortion under EMTALA amid concerns that pregnant people could suffer and be deprived of life-saving care in states that ban abortion. While the law typically has exemptions in medical emergencies and when the mother’s life is at risk, doctors have criticized the legislation for being too vague, leaving health care providers uncertain when abortion is legal.
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