Federal judge halts Biden HHS plan to force hospitals to provide abortions in Texas

Texas capitol

A federal judge has issued a temporary injunction blocking the Biden administration from enforcing its new Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidance requiring federally funded hospitals to provide abortions within the state of Texas. The ruling does not apply to other states.

Texas-based U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix ruled that the guidance was unauthorized and went beyond the text of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which the administration was attempting to use as the basis for its actions. The EMTALA specifies that hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds “are … required to provide stabilizing treatment for patients with [emergency medical conditions].” The court disagreed with the Biden administration’s interpretation of EMTALA as mandating abortion in some circumstances.

According to Texas Right to Life, “Hendrix’s order aligns with past court decisions which asserted EMTALA does not allow the federal government to mandate what specific treatment is provided under the act. Thus, the Biden administration cannot order physicians to address a mother’s life-threatening condition with abortion compared to other medical responses that would save her life.”

READ: Biden administration set to reject Texas’ request to expand Medicaid coverage for new moms

Judge Hendrix’s ruling states that the HHS guidance “goes well beyond EMTALA’s text, which protects both mothers and unborn children, is silent as to abortion, and preempts state law only when the two directly conflict.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded the ruling on Twitter, saying the guidance would have “transform[ed] every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic” and calling the ruling “a win for mothers, babies, & the TX healthcare industry.” 

The Biden administration responded to the order, calling it “a blow to Texans” and vowing that “the fight is not over.”

Choosing not to acknowledge the fact that hospitals already provide life-saving care without deliberately killing human beings, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated, “The President will continue to push to require hospitals to provide life-saving and health-preserving reproductive care.” 

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