Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has sued the Biden administration over federal guidance released on Monday that requires abortions to be provided in medical emergencies to save the life of the mother.
The suit is contending that the guidance violates the state’s “sovereign interest in the power to create and enforce a legal code.”
“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,” Paxton said in a statement on 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,” he continued.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pushed back against Paxton’s suit, asserting that the guidance is based on existing law.
“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,” she added.
The Biden administration’s guidance stated that the federal law on emergency treatment guidelines preempts state laws in jurisdictions that have prohibited the procedure in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision last month to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that established the constitutional right to an abortion.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) cited requirements for medical facilities in the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires hospitals to determine whether a person seeking treatment may be in labor or facing an emergency health situation and to provide necessary treatment. “If a physician believes that a pregnant patient presenting at an emergency department is experiencing an emergency medical condition as defined by EMTALA, and that abortion is the stabilizing treatment necessary to resolve that condition, the physician must provide that treatment,” the guidance stated.
On Wednesday, the Biden administration also warned roughly 60,000 retail pharmacies nationwide that they are at risk of violating federal civil rights laws if they deny filling prescriptions that could be used for abortions.
“We are committed to ensuring that everyone can access health care, free of discrimination,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra added in a statement. “This includes access to prescription medications for reproductive health and other types of care.”
People who believe a pharmacy is discriminating against them can file a complaint with the Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.