By Ashley Leenerts, Texas Right to Life
Following the fall of Roe v. Wade last year, President Biden and anti-Life Democrats have been desperately searching for ways to subvert Pro-Life state laws to continue the destruction of preborn life. One of the most recent attempts by the Biden Administration involves an endeavor to leverage the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) to compel hospitals, including those in Texas, to perform abortions.
EMTALA is a federal law that requires public hospitals to stabilize and care for any patient who needs emergency treatment, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Pro-Life President Ronald Reagan championed and signed EMTALA into law in 1986 so that vulnerable patients, including pregnant mothers in labor, would receive essential care for themselves and their preborn children.
But after the Pro-Life Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court ruling, the Biden Administration released new health care guidance on EMTALA stipulating that emergency rooms must offer abortions for a broad range of healthcare reasons, seeking to subvert Pro-Life states’ strong life-saving laws.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office sued the Biden Administration to block this guidance from affecting Texas’ laws and hospitals. A previous injunction by United States federal Judge James Hendrix temporarily halted the policy’s enforcement. However, the Biden Administration persisted in its appeal.
On November 7, 2023, a panel of judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard the Biden administration present their case, seeking to force Texas hospitals to provide abortion services under the umbrella of EMTALA.
The administration claims that the guidelines are simply meant to focus on allowing care in life-threatening situations. Biden lawyer McKaye Neumeister told the three-judge panel that the guidance merely reiterates existing EMTALA policy and does not expand the law.
However, the language used would actually expand the availability of abortions to cases where the mother’s physical life is not at risk. The timing of these new guidelines, released shortly after the Dobbs decision, suggests that the Biden Administration is attempting to expand abortion. Further, the rules are unnecessary considering that every Texas Pro-Life law already includes clearly-defined language stating that mothers whose lives are in danger can still obtain care. The Biden Administration’s pro-abortion guidance reveals a larger anti-Life agenda at work. During the hearing, Judge Wilson pointed out, “There’s words in the statute that address the unborn child and the pregnant mother, but there’s no word in there that says abortion services. You’re plucking words out of thin air and saying it’s in the statute.” It is unclear when the panel will issue a ruling.
Texas Right to Life is optimistic that the Fifth Circuit Court will uphold the lower court’s injunction and continue protecting Texas pregnant women and their preborn children.