Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration over federal rules that require abortions be provided in medical emergencies in order to save the life of the mother, even in states with near-total bans.

“The Biden Administration seeks to transform every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic,” Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit on Thursday.

The suit follows new guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that asserted federal law requiring emergency medical treatment supersedes any state restrictions on abortion in cases where the pregnant patient’s life or health is at risk.

This week, the Biden administration sent a memo to state officials reminding them of an existing law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which “requires that all patients receive an appropriate medical screening examination, stabilizing treatment, and transfer, if necessary,” according to the HHS guidance. That requirement exists “irrespective of any state laws or mandates that apply to specific procedures,” the memo said.

Although the HHS guidance focuses on abortions performed in emergency situations, Texas officials have interpreted the memo as an order that all hospital emergency rooms must provide on-demand abortion services.

“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,” the lawsuit said.


The lawsuit challenges the Biden administration guideline on the grounds that it uses federal funds – because it ties compliance to Medicare funds and because Justice Department funding would be spent enforcing the federal law – in violation of the Hyde Amendment that bars federal spending to facilitate an abortion.

The complaint also argues that HHS should have subjected the guidance to a lengthy “notice-and-comment” process required of newly proposed rules from federal agencies. The Biden administration memo did not implement a new rule but asserted that an existing law should be applied to abortions.

And it contends the guidance violates the Tenth Amendment, along with a law that forbids “arbitrary and capricious” actions by federal agencies.

Texas has a near-total abortion ban with an exception that allows doctors to perform an abortion in order to save the life of a pregnant patient.

The White House and HHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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