Biden’s Bid To Ensure Emergency Abortion Access Rejected In Texas
A Texas federal judge ruled a Biden administration effort to ensure access to abortions in medical emergencies was “unauthorized”.
A federal judge in Texas ruled a Biden administration effort to ensure access to abortions in medical emergencies was “unauthorized,” in an early win for state officials.
Texas filed the suit against the Department of Health and Human Services in July, challenging the position that emergency abortions for medical reasons take priority over state bans on such procedures. In a ruling late Tuesday, Judge James Wesley Hendrix, a Trump appointee, preliminarily halted enforcement of that measure in Texas.
The administration issued the rule under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA, in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the constitutional right to abortion. The Justice Department cited the rule in a separate lawsuit it brought against Idaho for its abortion restrictions.
Texas called it an “abortion mandate.”
The court ruled that the guidance “goes well beyond EMTALA’s text, which protects both mothers and unborn children, is silent as to abortion, and preempts state law only when the two directly conflict.”
“Since the statute is silent on the question, the guidance cannot answer how doctors should weigh risks to both a mother and her unborn child,” Hendrix wrote in a 67-page order. “Nor can it, in doing so, create a conflict with state law where one does not exist. The guidance was thus unauthorized.”
In addition, the judge said the agency “issued it without the required opportunity for public comment.”
The Biden administration said its rule was “reasonable and reasonably explained” and argued the guidance is needed to protect the lives of pregnant patients facing medical emergencies.
“Texas law already overlaps with EMTALA to a significant degree, allowing abortions in life-threatening conditions and for the removal of an ectopic or miscarried pregnancy,” the judge ruled.
The case is Texas v. Becerra, 22-cv-00185; U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Lubbock).
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