Texas sues health secretary over emergency abortion advice

The state of Texas sued the federal government on Thursday after the Biden administration said federal rules require hospitals to perform abortions if the procedure is necessary to save a mother’s life, even in cases where the State law primarily prohibits the procedure.

The lawsuit, which names the Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Xavier Becerra among its defendants, says the guidelines issued by the Biden administration earlier this week are illegal and the Emergency Medical Treatment Act and labor does not cover abortions.

“The Biden administration is seeking to turn every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in announcing the lawsuit. He said the federal government has no authority to require emergency health care providers to perform abortions.

Legal disputes worry doctors. Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, a Dallas-based obstetrician-gynecologist and former abortion provider, said emergency departments can encounter these situations frequently — when patients experience miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, or when a woman’s waters break before a fetus is viable.

“Doctors shouldn’t have to call a lawyer, call an ethicist, call another lawyer, call a hospital administrator while a patient is dying,” he said. she declared. “It is unacceptable.”

The lawsuit comes after the Biden administration told hospitals on Monday they ‘must’ provide abortion services if the mother’s life is in danger, saying federal law on emergency treatment guidelines prevails. on state laws that almost completely ban the procedure, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that abortion is not a constitutional right.

In a letter to providers, the Department of Health and Human Services said medical facilities are required to determine whether a person seeking treatment may be in labor or facing an emergency health situation — or which could turn into an emergency – and to provide treatment. The letter says that if abortion is the treatment needed to stabilize the patient, it should be done.

“When a state law prohibits abortion and does not include an exception for the life of the pregnant person – or sets the exception narrower than the definition of state of health emergency of EMTALA – this state law is preempted,” the letter reads.

The department says its guidelines do not reflect new policy, but remind physicians and providers of existing obligations under the EMTALA, which was adopted in 1986 and signed by President Ronald Reagan.

But Texas officials disagree and are asking a judge to overturn the Biden administration’s guidelines and declare them illegal.

The lawsuit says Biden “flagrantly ignores” the legislative and Democratic process, and that the guidelines force “hospitals and doctors to commit crimes and risk their license under Texas law.”

The lawsuit said the EMTALA does not impose, direct or suggest providing specific treatment and says nothing about abortion.

“Rather, EMTALA considers an emergency medical condition to be a condition that threatens the life of the unborn child,” the lawsuit states. “Obviously abortion does not preserve the life or health of an unborn child.”

Roe’s fall set in motion Texas’ trigger law that will ban virtually all abortions in the coming weeks. Clinics have tried to continue serving patients in the meantime, but court battles over whether a dormant 1925 abortion ban can be enforced for now has already stopped most doctors from performing abortions. Abortions will soon only be allowed in Texas when a mother’s life is in danger or if she risks “substantial impairment of a major bodily function.”

Laura Hermer, professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. said Texas is more interested in its own sovereignty than protecting pregnant women.

“It’s dangerous to be pregnant in Texas,” said Laura Hermer, a professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. “Pregnant people are going to die in Texas because of the position Texas takes on this issue. It’s not pro-life. There’s nothing pro-life there.

Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University School of Law, said it was surprising that the challenge came from a state government. “It’s usually the providers who would challenge any coverage mandate that isn’t clearly established in federal law,” Turley said.

Moayedi, the Dallas doctor who is also a board member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, said the federal government’s advice was not helpful — and the Texas lawsuit is instilling fear among health care providers. statewide health.

“Health care providers have always been very reluctant to engage in anything that could be considered an abortion in our state unless they are abortion providers,” she said.

The lawsuit says doctors will be forced to choose between violating Texas law — which bans nearly all abortions — or jeopardizing their ability to receive Medicare funds. The lawsuit says the federal guidelines also conflict with the Hyde Amendment, which generally prohibits the use of federal dollars to fund abortions unless a pregnancy is the result of rape, incest, or the woman’s life is in danger.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said it was an example of an “extreme and radical” Republican elected official. a right protected by US law.

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