Texas sues Biden administration over rules on emergency abortion

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration over HHS guidance that says hospitals must provide abortions in emergency cases. 

The lawsuit was filed July 14 in the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas and names HHS, CMS and officials within the agencies. It targets a recent HHS directive that says abortion is covered under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. The federal law requires Medicare hospitals to provide all patients emergency care, regardless of state law, meaning it preempts state abortion bans. EMTALA is enforced through CMS. 

"As front-line healthcare providers, the federal EMTALA statute protects your clinical judgment and the action that you take to provide stabilizing medical treatment to your pregnant patients, regardless of the restrictions in the state where you practice," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra wrote in a July 11 letter notifying healthcare providers of the guidance.

"By this move, the Biden administration seeks to transform every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic," Mr. Paxton said in a July 14 statement announcing the lawsuit. "EMTALA does not authorize and has never been thought to authorize the federal government to require emergency healthcare providers to perform abortions."

In a July 14 tweet, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wrote, "It is unthinkable that this public official would sue to block women from receiving life-saving care in emergency rooms, a right protected under U.S. law." 

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