Texas Sues Biden Administration For Right To Deny Life-Saving Abortions
Texas filed a lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s administration Thursday over its guidance that life- or health-saving abortions must be made available to patients, regardless of a state’s laws on the procedure.
The guidance in question came in a memo this week from the Department of Health and Human Services that reiterated existing guidance dating back to 1986. The guidance requires that all patients receive appropriate medical care and stabilizing treatment in an emergency situation.
Since the fall of Roe v. Wade last month, a number of states have enacted abortion bans, some of which include exceptions for the life and safety of the mother. However, the language in those clauses is often vague and confusing, which creates an incentive for providers not to perform abortions until a patient is moments from death, for fear of losing their license or facing legal repercussions.
The Biden administration’s memo is an attempt to address that, but Texas officials have interpreted it as an effort to “use federal law to transform every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic” and to force providers into performing abortions, the lawsuit says.
“This administration has a hard time following the law, and now they are trying to have their appointed bureaucrats mandate that hospitals and emergency medicine physicians perform abortions,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said in a statement Thursday. “I will ensure that President Biden will be forced to comply with the Supreme Court’s important decision concerning abortion and I will not allow him to undermine and distort existing laws to fit his administration’s unlawful agenda.”
The White House called it “unthinkable” that a state would try and fight this guidance.
“This is yet another example of an extreme and radical Republican elected official,” White house press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement, referring to Paxton. “It is unthinkable that this public official would sue to block women from receiving life-saving care in emergency rooms, a right protected under U.S. law.”
Texas’ “trigger ban” on abortion is set to go into effect soon, but providers have already ceased offering the procedure because Paxton argued it’s already outlawed by a pre-Roe ban that was never repealed.
The Texas abortion ban does include a clause allowing for life-saving and health-preserving abortions, but it simply calls on providers to use their “reasonable medical judgment” when making those decisions. Since the Supreme Court struck down Roe, providers have spoken up about how murky those situations are, and have warned that patients may die while they wait for legal advice on how to proceed in an emergency.
The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, an issue that disproportionately affects people of color. In the U.S., Black women are over three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.