Appeals Court Rules TX Can Ban Emergency Abortions
HOUSTON, TX (IANS) – The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Texas can ban emergency abortions, despite President Joe Biden’s administration arguing that federal guidance should take priority over state laws banning the procedure.
“The Texas plaintiffs’ argument that medical treatment is historically subject to the police power of the states, not to be superseded unless that was the clear and manifest purpose of Congress, is convincing,” Judge Kurt Engelhardt, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, wrote in his opinion.
Texas had sued the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over its guidance on the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which says health providers who perform abortions in emergencies are protected under federal law.
A federal judge in Texas blocked the federal agency from enforcing the guidance in Texas in 2022, and the HHS appealed the decision afterward.
Last month, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a pregnant woman, Kate Cox, who was suing the state over its abortion ban, was not permitted to undergo an emergency procedure in the state.
Cox, who learned that her fetus had a fatal diagnosis, ultimately left the state to obtain the necessary procedure.
Texas has one of the strictest abortion bans in the US.
Abortions in the state are prohibited from the point of conception, except in rare cases where the life of the expectant mother is under threat.
There is no state-wide law prohibiting travel outside of the state for abortion, but some counties have passed such restrictions in recent months.
In October 2023, Lubbock County became the largest county to enact such a measure, making it illegal for anyone to transport a pregnant woman through the county, or pay for her travel, to obtain an abortion.
Nearly 1 in 5 people who had an abortion in the US in the first half of 2023 – more than 92,000 people – traveled across state lines for their care, according to a report from the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization focused on sexual and reproductive health that supports abortion rights.