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Texas sues Biden administration over emergency abortion guidance

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Thursday after the Department of Health and Human Services reiterated guidance this week that says doctors are required to perform an abortion if a pregnant woman’s life is in danger. 

“President Biden is flagrantly disregarding the legislative and democratic process—and flouting the Supreme Court’s ruling before the ink is dry—by having his appointed bureaucrats mandate that hospitals and emergency medicine physicians must perform abortions,” the lawsuit, which names Health Secretary Xavier Becerra and other officials as defendants, says. 

Becerra issued the guidance to health care providers on Monday, writing in a letter that under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, physicians “must” provide an abortion if it is the “stabilizing treatment necessary to resolve” an emergency medical condition. 

“When a state law prohibits abortion and does not include an exception for the life and health of the pregnant person — or draws the exception more narrowly than EMTALA’s emergency medical condition definition — that state law is preempted,” Becerra wrote in the letter. 

Paxton said in a statement on Thursday afternoon that the administration’s interpretation is too wide and mandates “abortions under a whole new range of circumstances.”

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“In addition, the Abortion Mandate conflicts with the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal dollars from being used to fund abortions except when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or the woman’s life is in danger,” the lawsuit reads. 

The lawsuit comes about three weeks after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing states to put stringent restrictions on abortion for the first time in five decades. 

Abortion rights protesters participate in nationwide demonstrations following the leaked Supreme Court opinion suggesting the possibility of overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision, in Houston, Texas, U.S., May 14, 2022. 

A trigger law will go into effect in Texas in the coming weeks that bans all abortions unless a pregnancy “places the female at risk of death or poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function.”

Texas already passed a law last year that bans nearly all abortions after six weeks. 

The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit on Thursday. 

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