Texas sues after Biden administration issues guidelines saying doctors can perform emergency abortions

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration on Thursday over new federal guidelines that doctors can continue to perform abortions when providing emergency care. Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

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Texas is suing the Biden administration over guidelines issued Monday telling doctors nationwide they are protected under federal law to terminate a pregnancy as part of emergency treatment — and threatening to reimburse hospitals that don’t. do not perform these procedures.

The Biden Administration tips states that federal law requires physicians to perform abortions for pregnant women in emergency rooms when it is “necessary stabilization treatment” to resolve a medical emergency, including treatments for extra pregnancy. uterus, hypertension and preeclampsia.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration also warned retail pharmacies that they must fill prescriptions for pills that may induce abortion or risk violating federal civil rights law.

These two recent actions pit the federal executive branch against state governments after the US Supreme Court overturned a nearly half-century-old precedent that affirmed abortion access as a constitutional right.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxtonthe office filed the suit challenging the guidelines in federal court Thursday, saying the Biden administration’s guidelines violate “the sovereign interest of the state in the power to create and enforce legal code.”

Texas is one of many states with laws banning abortion already in place or triggering laws that will soon ban the medical procedure. Texas will soon ban all abortions from the time of fertilization, with rare exceptions, only to save the life of a pregnant patient or prevent “substantial impairment of major bodily functions.”

The Biden administration has reassured doctors nationwide that they don’t need to wait for a patient’s health to deteriorate before taking action and that they can act in cases where the non- treatment would result in severe impairment, advice that comes as healthcare professionals in Texas and other states where abortion is banned are trying to figure out what kind of women’s healthcare is allowed under the new restrictions. The guidelines do not seek to update existing law, but to clarify a hospital’s duties under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.

“In no uncertain terms, we are reinforcing that we expect providers to continue to offer these services and that federal law precludes state abortion bans when needed for emergency care,” said the US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra in a statement. statement. “Under the law, wherever you live, women have the right to emergency care, including abortion care.”

The Biden administration has warned that if a hospital does not provide emergency abortion treatment if needed, it could be fined or have its Medicare status revoked.

“These hospitals are now at risk of having to choose between violating state law under threat of criminal sanction or compromising their ability to participate in Medicaid,” Paxton’s office argued in the lawsuit.

Any decision will likely be appealed. Paxton’s office argues that the federal guidelines not only clarify existing law, but “include a number of new requirements related to the provision of abortions that do not exist under federal law.”

“This administration is struggling to follow the law, and now it’s trying to get its appointed bureaucrats to compel hospitals and emergency physicians to perform abortions,” Paxton said in a statement. “I will ensure that President Biden is forced to comply with the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on abortion and will not allow him to undermine and twist existing laws to fit his illegal agenda. administration.”

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Grandstand at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/07/14/texas-biden-emergency-abortion/.

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