A federal appeals court ruled this month that Texas hospitals cannot be required to perform emergency abortions to stabilize the life of a patient, despite federal guidance that advises the contrary.
The Fifth Circuit ruling sides with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and pro-life groups, and states that the Biden Administration’s guidance – that hospitals receiving Medicare must provide abortions if they are a necessary medically stabilizing treatment – oversteps its authority and runs counter to state laws.
The Justice Department will determine whether to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. For now, the ruling means the status quo remains in Texas, which already has a near-total ban on abortion.
“The exceptions [under Texas law] are incredibly unclear and doctors are terrified to rely on these vague exceptions when they could face life in prison,” said Center for Reproductive Rights spokesperson Kelly Krause. This month’s ruling continues to leave medical providers in Texas to decipher the state’s law and determine whether an abortion is medically necessary to save a patient, at the risk of criminal repercussions.
Senior Staff Attorney Rabia Muqaddam of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing plaintiffs in other Texas abortion cases, said the ruling “shows a complete disregard for the lives of pregnant people.”
Muqaddam said the ruling was a “radical narrowing” of the law that means everyone who comes into an emergency room in Texas is entitled to stabilizing care – the ruling makes it “unless they happen to be a pregnant person who needs an emergency abortion to be stabilized.”