Texas sues federal government over new guidance from Biden administration directing hospitals to provide emergency abortions regardless of state bans on the procedure.
US state of Texas has sued the Biden administration over its claim that federal law preempts state law when it comes to performing life-saving abortions.
The lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is the latest salvo in the legal frenzy which has erupted since the Supreme Court ruled last month that individual US states can ban or restrict abortion.
Following the Supreme Court decision, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that federal law protects health care providers who perform "life-or health-saving abortion services in emergency situations."
"When a state law prohibits abortion and does not include an exception for the life and health of the pregnant person... that state law is preempted," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a letter to health care providers.
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'Biden will be forced to comply decision'
Paxton filed suit against HHS over its use of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), saying it would "require hospitals to perform abortions."
"The Biden Administration seeks to transform every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic," Paxton said in a statement.
"EMTALA does not authorise and has never been thought to authorise the federal government to require emergency health care providers to perform abortions," he said.
"Now they are trying to have their appointed bureaucrats mandate that hospitals and emergency medicine physicians perform abortions," Paxton added.
"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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Biden is attempting to twist federal law to force abortions in TX. SCOTUS returned the issue to states. TX law protects pre-born life. Biden’s HHS is attempting to undo all that.— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) July 14, 2022
Not on my watch. I just filed suit. I’ll ensure the left’s abortion agenda can’t reach TX babies. pic.twitter.com/P84jlF893T
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denounced Paxton as "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 US law," Jean-Pierre said.
Texas has imposed a near-total ban on abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case which enshrined a woman's legal right to an abortion.
The state law does allow for abortion in cases where a pregnant woman is faced with a life-threatening condition.
Altogether about two dozen US states are expected to severely restrict or outright ban and criminalise abortions, forcing women to travel long distances to states that still permit the procedure.
READ MORE: Protests across US after Supreme Court overturned abortion protections