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Texas sues to block Biden administration guidance on emergency abortions

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JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, the state of Texas accused the Biden administration of attempting to force hospitals to perform abortions in violation of state law.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is seeking to challenge guidance issued by the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this week that said health care providers may continue perform abortions in medical emergencies even in states where those abortions would be illegal.

HHS said Monday that federal law "protects providers when offering legally-mandated, life- or health-saving abortion services in emergency situations."

The agency claims that under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, abortions can be performed in emergency situations, such as when the life of the mother is threatened. HHS officials said that state anti-abortion laws that do not contain exemptions for medical emergencies would be preempted by federal law.

“Under the law, no matter where you live, women have the right to emergency care — including abortion care,” Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “Today, in no uncertain terms, we are reinforcing that we expect providers to continue offering these services, and that federal law preempts state abortion bans when needed for emergency care."

Responding to the guidance, Paxton accused President Joe Biden of "attempting to twist federal law to force abortions in [Texas]."

The lawsuit alleges that HHS is attempting to "use federal law to transform every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic."

"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," it states.

Texas argues that the law "does not authorize — and has never authorized — the federal government to compel health care providers to perform abortions."

The state is asking the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to declare the guidance "unlawful" and block the federal government from enforcing it.

“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. “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.”

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