Texas judge blocks Biden order requiring doctors to perform emergency abortions

Texas judge blocks Biden order requiring doctors to perform emergency abortions

A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked compliance with a Biden administration order requiring hospitals to perform abortions in medical emergencies, backing state officials who have said the federal order should not override Texas’ abortion law.

Texas sued the federal government over the order in July, arguing that the guidance violates the state’s authority to create and enforce its own laws. Starting Thursday, it will be illegal for doctors to perform an abortion in the state, except in rare cases where the life of the pregnant woman is at risk.

In an order Tuesday, U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix wrote that the Biden administration “did not have the legal authority” to issue its guidance on emergency abortions and that allowing federal guidance to override state law would cause “irreparable harm.” ”.

“The Guidance gives Texas hospitals and doctors license – much more, requires them – to violate Texas abortion laws if their medical judgment says that an abortion is necessary to stabilize the patient in a situation prohibited by Texas law.” said Hendrix, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump. “This undermines Texas’ legitimate interest in the continued enforcement of its abortion laws.”

The Department of Health and Human Services issued the guidance in July, weeks after the US Supreme Court ruled that abortion is not a constitutional right.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the Texas decision “a blow to Texans,” saying pregnant women in Texas may now be denied appropriate treatment for conditions such as dangerously high blood pressure or bleeding. serious.

“It’s wrong, it’s the other way around, and women can die as a result. The fight is not over,” Jean-Pierre said in a prepared statement. “The president will continue to push to demand that hospitals provide reproductive care that saves lives and preserves health.”

A similar case is taking place in Idaho, where a federal judge on Monday suggested that the state’s abortion ban could violate the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. A decision on the case is expected later this Wednesday.

President Joe Biden speaks during a virtual meeting with Democratic governors on the issue of abortion rights at the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Friday, July 1, 2022, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) XMIT ORG: DCEV406

President Joe Biden speaks during a virtual meeting with Democratic governors on the issue of abortion rights at the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Friday, July 1, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) XMIT ORG: DCEV406

The Biden administration’s guidance states that emergency room physicians must provide lifesaving medical care to pregnant patients who are experiencing an emergency medical condition — even if that care includes an abortion prohibited by state law. The guidance listed an ectopic pregnancy, complications from pregnancy loss, or emerging hypertensive disorders as examples of possible medical conditions that may require an abortion to save a pregnant person.

The government has threatened to fine or withdraw Medicare status from hospitals that do not follow the guidance, which was issued after the US Supreme Court ended federal constitutional protections for abortion.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the Biden administration was trying to use federal health regulations to “turn every emergency room in the country into an abortion clinic.”

“Last night, the court ruled in favor of Texas!” he said in a tweet. “A win for moms, babies and the TX healthcare industry.”

Hendrix ruled that the guidance, issued under the Labor and Emergency Medical Treatment Act, goes beyond the scope of federal law and does not adequately balance the interests of a pregnant person and her unborn child.

“Insofar as the Guidance would require abortion where Texas would not, Texas law does so to ‘provide the best opportunity for the fetus to survive,'” the order reads. “The Court will not interfere with the balance between the health of an unborn child and the health of its mother when that balance is left to the people and their elected representatives.”

Texas has several overlapping bans on abortion, including a statute prior to Roe v. Wade that criminalizes all abortions. On Thursday, Texas’ abortion “trigger law” will go into effect and make it a crime to perform an abortion at any time during pregnancy.

Contribution: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared in USA TODAY: Texas judge blocks Biden order for emergency abortions

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