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Texas sues Biden administration over guidance directed at reproductive care for emergency room patients

Texas filed a lawsuit on Thursday contesting the Biden administration’s activities following the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, measures that Texas claims improperly preempt its abortion laws.

Texas is contesting recent guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services that stated that federal law preempts state abortion restrictions when emergency care is required and that the federal government can penalize institutions or providers who fail to provide abortions necessary for treating medical emergencies. 

The guidance was released on Monday following an executive order by President Joe Biden last week.

Texas contends that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, the relevant legislation, does not grant the federal government the right to compel medical professionals to perform abortions. 

The legislation establishes requirements for the care that emergency patients at specific healthcare institutions must get and, in the event of a breach, threatens legal fines as well as the loss of Medicare or Medicaid funds.

“EMTALA does not mandate access to abortion or codify a right to an abortion as ‘stabilizing treatment’ for an ’emergency medical condition,'” the lawsuit said. “The Abortion Mandate cites no other federal law that would authorize or require an abortion. No federal statute, including EMTALA, supersedes or preempts the States’ power to regulate or prohibit abortion.”

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Texas is asking the court to block enforcement of guidance and to declare the directive unlawful.

“The EMTALA Guidance explicitly threatens the Medicare provider agreements for any healthcare providers that refuse to abide by the Abortion Mandate,” Texas said. “These hospitals are now threatened with having to choose between violating state law under threat of criminal penalty or jeopardizing their ability to participate in Medicaid.”

The lawsuit argues that the guidance runs afoul of the Hyde Amendment, which limits the spending of federal funds on abortion care.

“By conditioning the receipt of Medicare funds on providing abortions under the terms of the Abortion Mandate, Defendants are requiring the use of federal dollars to coerce healthcare providers to supply abortions outside the allowable scope under the Hyde Amendment,” the lawsuit said.

Additionally, the lawsuit claims the federal government violated administrative law in how it rolled out the policy.

A spokesperson for the HHS did not respond to CNN’s inquiry.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that the lawsuit represents “yet another example of an extreme and radical Republican elected official.”

“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 said.

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