One former Heath and Human Services (HHS) official told the Catholic News Agency (CNA) that in seeking to block enforcement of the Texas Heartbeat Act (SB 8), the Biden administration is attempting to “bail out” Texas pro-abortion organizations.
Roger Severino, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and former head of the HHS civil rights office, told CNA that the HHS is “twisting and turning and distorting the law in order to try to bail out their friends at Planned Parenthood. To do so, HHS plans to increase funding for clinics in Texas and enforce two existing federal laws that do not actually support their claims.”
“Today we are making clear that doctors and hospitals have an obligation under federal law to make medical decisions regarding when it’s appropriate to treat their patients,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “And we are telling doctors and others involved in the provision of abortion care, that we have your back.”
HHS is giving $10 million to the group Every Body Teas, a Title X program that gives grants to clinics for family planning services. Under Title X, funds can’t pay directly for abortions, but money is fungible; giving abortionists any funding allows them to continue to abort children with more money in their pockets.
“They are shoveling loads of money towards their abortion industry allies on the pretext that, with fewer abortions being available in Texas, that there’s going to be an emergency need for more contraceptives,” said Severino. “That is effectively an admittance that people getting abortions were using it as a method of family planning.”
According to CNA, the two laws that HHS plans to enforce are the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) and the Church Amendments. EMTALA is a 1986 law that requires Medicare-participant hospitals to provide emergency stabilizing treatment to people who require it or transfer them to a hospital that can provide it. But this would mean the HHS thinks abortion is actually a form of emergency care for pregnant women. It’s not.
“They are specifically now opining that abortion may actually be required under federal law,” said Severino. “And that is absolutely outrageous.” He explained that the law makes specific references to a preborn child and the pregnant woman at a hospital, protecting preborn children, and requiring that they be stabilized along with their mothers in emergency situations. This is not what an abortion would do. An abortion would intentionally end the child’s life, rather than work to save both mother and child. And in a true emergency, it would actually put the mother’s health at greater risk.
“Intentionally killing a child in the womb does not qualify as stabilizing treatment for the mother, and certainly not for the child,” said Severino.
The Church Amendments were enacted in the 1970s and prevent federally-funded institutions from forcing pro-life healthcare professionals to assist with abortion or sterilization procedures. In 2019, under the Trump administration, Severino’s HHS civil rights office alleged that the University of Vermont Medical Center forced a nurse to partake in an abortion against her will. The DOJ filed a lawsuit against the hospital citing the Church Amendments, but in July, with the Biden administration now in charge, the lawsuit was dropped under the request of Becerra’s HHS.
“They are protecting abortionists instead of the victims of abortionists, which is beyond ironic,” said Severino. “And they don’t have a legal basis to do so.”
He added, “But the Teas [heartbeat] law doesn’t really speak to Texas as an employer. So, they [HHS] are really barking up the wrong tree on this one, in order to signal to the administration’s allies in the abortion industry that they’ve got their back.”
The Biden administration’s devotion to the abortion industry is made evident by its attempts to ensure that Texas has no say in its own state laws when it comes to abortion. And the administration’s attempts to distort federal laws to fit their pro-abortion agenda reveals how deeply intertwined the current administration is with the abortion industry.
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