Texas blocks attempt to force doctors to perform abortions
A federal district court in Texas issued an order Wednesday blocking the Biden administration’s attempt to force the state’s emergency room doctors to perform abortions—regardless of whether doing so violates their religious beliefs.
Judge James Wesley Hendrix determined that the state of Texas and two groups of pro-life physicians were likely to prevail in their case against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The outcome is a welcome victory for states such as Texas that pass pro-life laws but find themselves in a game of whack-a-mole with an administration desperate to protect “reproductive rights” in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
“Emergency room physicians can, and do, treat ectopic pregnancies and other life-threatening conditions,” Denise Harle, senior counsel and director of Alliance Defending Freedom’s Center for Life, said. “Elective abortion is not lifesaving care—it ends the life of the unborn—and the government can’t force doctors to perform procedures that violate their conscience and religious beliefs.”
Hendrix issued his order in a case called Texas et al., v. Xavier Becerra, et al.
The state of Texas, together with the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Christian Medical & Dental Associations, sued the Biden administration to challenge its abortion mandate in July, which was based creatively on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA.
Texas and the other plaintiffs argued that the Biden administration’s mandate unlawfully requires abortions in situations where Texas outlaws them under its own law, the Texas Human Life Protection Act.
Congress enacted EMTALA in 1986 to ensure public access to emergency services regardless of whether an individual could pay. Section 1867 of the Social Security Act imposes specific obligations on Medicare-participating hospitals offering emergency services to provide a medical screening examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition, including active labor, regardless of financial ability.
Hospitals are required to provide stabilizing treatment for patients with what are called emergency medical conditions. If a Medicare-participating hospital is unable to stabilize a patient, or if the patient requests, the hospital transfers the patient to another facility.
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