Texas challenges federal order to allow life-saving abortions


The US state is suing the Biden administration over guidelines requiring doctors to perform abortions on pregnant patients at risk.

The US state of Texas has sued the Biden administration over recent federal guidelines requiring doctors to perform emergency abortions in cases where a pregnant patient’s life is at risk.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the lawsuit Thursday, accusing the Biden administration of trying to “turn every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic.”

Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended that a federal law protecting patients’ access to emergency care requires abortions to be performed when doctors believe a person’s life or health is in danger.

The Biden administration has argued that the requirement applies even in states where abortion is now banned in almost all circumstances following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 case that overturned the right to abortion in the United States. States guaranteed.

The guidelines apply “regardless of any state laws or mandates that apply to specific proceedings,” HHS said in a memo (PDF) Monday.

“If a physician believes that a pregnant patient presenting to an emergency department has a medical emergency…and that abortion is the stabilizing treatment needed to resolve that condition, the physician must provide that treatment. “

The lawsuit is the latest example of the legal battle waged to shape the post-Roe landscape in the US as conservative states push for restrictions and the federal government and liberal states look for ways to maintain access to abortion.

The flurry of legal action has led to a sense of confusion about what is and isn’t allowed, as courts, state legislators and the federal government all get involved in the abortion debate.

Paxton has argued that the Biden administration is trying to “make their appointed bureaucrats oblige hospitals and emergency medicine physicians to perform abortions,” despite the guidelines referring to emergency situations.

In Texas, a series of laws prohibit abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest. But Paxton argues in the lawsuit that under those laws, abortions performed for the purpose of saving the mother’s life are not illegal. However, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have argued: that those exceptions are “narrow”.

A judge had previously prevented Texas officials from enforcing a dormant 1925 state abortion ban, which Paxton said was back in effect after the Supreme Court’s decision last month to overthrow Roe. Paxton filed an emergency motion requesting the state Supreme Court to reverse that decision, which it did on July 2.

White House press officer Karine Jean-Pierre criticized the Texas trial on Thursday as “yet another example of an extreme and radical Republican elected official.”

“It is inconceivable that this official would file a lawsuit to prevent women from receiving life-saving care in the emergency room, a right protected by US law,” she said in a statement.

With Roe-guaranteed protections gone, abortion rights organizations have stepped up pressure on the Biden administration to take more aggressive steps to tackle restrictions.

Biden signed an executive order on July 8 instructing HHS to defend access to federally-approved abortion pills and birth control, and to promote public education efforts about reproductive rights.

There is an ongoing debate within the Democratic Party about how much can be done and what steps can be taken to protect access to abortion, with Roe rebuffing, with some progressives denouncing party leaders’ lack of urgency.

Others hope voters will chide the Republican Party over recent abortion restrictions in the 2022 midterm elections.

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