Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday over the Biden administration’s recent guidance specifying that abortions must be provided in particular emergency scenarios.
The suit names HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra as its lead defendant and accuses the Biden administration of using federal law to “transform every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic.”
“The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) that Defendants cite as the basis for their Abortion Mandate does not authorize — and has never authorized — the federal government to compel healthcare providers to perform abortions. [The] Defendants’ Abortion Mandate is unlawful and must be set aside,” the lawsuit states.
The suit challenges recent guidance from the Biden administration, including a letter sent Monday by the HHS to physicians across the country stating that providers are required to perform emergency medical care, which may include abortions, even in states where the procedure is banned. EMTALA, enacted in 1986, requires that hospitals stabilize patients and transfer them if necessary.
“Under the law, no matter where you live, women have the right to emergency care — including abortion care,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
The letter came days after Biden signed an executive order aimed at protecting abortion and other reproductive health access.
Although Texas has one of the strictest abortion bans in the country and allows civilians to sue those who aid and abet abortion providers for up to $10,000, the procedure is allowed in life-threatening scenarios and when an abortion would stop “substantial impairment of major bodily function.”
Abortion currently is banned or in question in more than 20 states after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.