Texas Sues US Over Abortion Rule

Lawsuit would block requirement that doctors provide access in emergencies
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2022 4:20 PM CDT
Texas Takes Administration to Court Over Abortion Rule
President Biden hands a pen to Vice President Kamala Harris after signing an executive order on abortion access at the White House last Friday. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra looks on.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Three days after the federal government told doctors and hospitals they're still required to provide abortions when a patient's health is at risk—regardless of state laws or US Supreme Court rulings—Texas has sued the administration. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told health care providers that in emergency situations, the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act takes precedence over state laws that restrict access to abortion, CNBC reports. The Texas lawsuit seeks to overturn the requirement, saying the Biden administration's guidance "seeks to transform every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic."

"I will ensure that President Biden will be forced to comply with the Supreme Court's important decision concerning abortion and I will not allow him to undermine and distort existing laws to fit his administration's unlawful agenda," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement. The president has told agencies to look for ways to preserve access to abortion services. Under the law, physicians determine what qualifies as an emergency medical condition for a pregnant patient, per the Hill. The administration's examples include ectopic pregnancy, complications of miscarriage, or severe preeclampsia. "Under the law, no matter where you live, women have the right to emergency care—including abortion care," Becerra said.

He warned that failure to comply could cost doctors or hospitals financially and that their Medicare provider agreements could be revoked. Texas argues that the federal law makes no mention of particular treatments in life-threatening cases. "It says nothing about abortion," says the suit, which was filed in the Northern District of Texas. The state made abortion illegal last month, after almost 50 years, once the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Another law is to take effect soon in Texas that makes performing an abortion a felony. It includes an exception if the patient, as determined by a licensed physician, faces a life-threatening physical condition. (More abortion debate stories.)

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