An abortion rights demonstrator holds a sign during a rally in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on June 25, 2022 – Copyright AFP ROBERTO SCHMIDT
A federal judge in Texas has blocked a Biden administration guidance that required hospitals to provide emergency abortions, even in Texas, which prohibits the practice following the supreme court’s overturning of Roe v Wade.
U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix in Lubbock agreed with Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton late Tuesday night that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidance was unauthorized and went beyond the text of a related federal law, according to Reuters.
Judge Hendrix cited the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), saying it was “unauthorized.”
“That guidance goes well beyond EMTALA’s text, which protects both mothers and unborn children, is silent as to abortion, and preempts state law only when the two directly conflict. Since the statute is silent on the question, the Guidance cannot answer how doctors should weigh risks to both a mother and her unborn child. Nor can it, in doing so, create a conflict with state law where one does not exist,” Hendrix wrote in his opinion granting a preliminary injunction against HHS enforcing the guidance in Texas or against members of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists or Christian Medical & Dental Associations, reports CNN News.
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision that struck down the federal right to abortion, HHS, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, issued guidance on July 11 on the EMTALA, reminding providers of their duty to provide emergency care including abortions and reaffirming that the act protects providers offering legally mandated abortion services in emergency situations.
Hendrix ruled ahead of an expected Wednesday ruling by another judge on whether a near-total ban in Idaho challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice conflicts with the same federal statute at issue in Texas’s case.
In his ruling, Hendrix, an appointee of former Republican President Donald Trump, said the guidance went too far in extending that 1986 federal law, which seeks to ensure hospitals provide emergency medical care for the poor and uninsured.