Federal Court Rules That Texas Can Ban Emergency Abortions

A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the U.S. government cannot force the state of Texas to perform emergency abortions.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made a unanimous decision regarding enforcing the Biden administration’s Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). The guidance, which went into effect in July 2022, stated that emergency rooms could perform abortions when necessary to stabilize women with medical emergencies, even in banned states.

EMTALA was based on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act of 1986, which requires emergency room doctors to provide stabilizing care to anyone who arrives at the emergency room, regardless of their ability to pay.

The lawsuit was originally filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations in 2022 against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over EMTALA.

The case initially went before U.S. District Judge James Westley Henderix, but the U.S. Department of Justice appealed his ruling, which was in favor of Paxton.

“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 2022.

The judges who resided in the case were Leslie Southwick, Kurt Engelhardt, and Cory Wilson.

“We agree with the district court that EMTALA does not provide an unqualified right for the pregnant mother to abort her child,” Judge Engelhardt wrote. “EMTALA does not mandate medical treatments, let alone abortion care, nor does it preempt Texas law.”

The decision comes after a Texas woman, Kate Cox, was denied an emergency court order request last month after learning that the baby she was carrying had trisomy 18, a fatal chromosomal condition, along with other conditions, including a spinal abnormality.

Texas’ abortion law is one of the strictest in the country, prohibiting abortions once a fetal heartbeat is established, which usually occurs around six weeks.