- The Washington Times - Monday, July 18, 2022

The state of Texas is suing the Biden administration, arguing it can’t use federal law to force hospitals to perform abortions as a way to circumvent the state’s ban.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, filed the 20-page complaint last week in a federal court in Texas, arguing the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act can’t be used as a way to force doctors in his state to perform abortions.

President Biden recently signed an executive order aimed at ensuring access to reproductive health care after the Supreme Court last month overruled Roe v. Wade, which gave women a national right to abortion.

The ruling sent the issue of abortion back to the state legislatures, followed by several conservative states moving to ban abortion.

Texas had a ban on abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, but in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the state is expected to fully ban the procedure in the coming weeks with the exception of saving the life of the mother, according to The Associated Press.

Four days after the president’s order, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a mandate to “override individual states’ abortion laws under the authority of the EMTALA,” according to the lawsuit.

“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,” Mr. Paxton said. “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.”

A spokesperson from the Justice Department said they will work to defend abortion rights.

“As the attorney general stated on the day of the Dobbs decision, the Department of Justice will work tirelessly to protect and advance access to reproductive freedom and choice. Through the Justice Department’s Reproductive Rights Task Force, the department will fight to protect women’s constitutional rights and emergency health needs. As to the new case filed, we are reviewing the complaint and will vigorously defend the guarantees of care for emergency medical conditions that EMTALA provides,” the person told The Washington Times.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The lawsuit asks the court to declare the administration’s mandate unlawful and to block its enforcement. 

“No federal statute confers a right to abortion. EMTALA is no different. It does not guarantee access to abortion,” the complaint reads.

The EMTALA was passed in 1986 to ensure no one was turned away from emergency health services whether or not they were able to pay for the medical treatment.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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