(Patriot.Buzz) – In an astounding win for pro-life advocates seeking to protect the unborn, a federal appeals court panel delivered a unanimous decision addressing a key conflict between state and federal regulations concerning abortion procedures.
Consisting entirely of judges appointed by Republican presidents, the appeals court unanimously decided that the Biden administration cannot mandate emergency room doctors in Texas to perform abortions as part of stabilizing treatment under federal law.
The case originated from a directive issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services in July 2022. This directive mandated that, under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) of 1986, physicians in states with abortion laws, like Texas, must provide abortions if considered necessary to stabilize a patient in an emergency medical condition.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, alongside the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, filed a lawsuit challenging the federal guidance. The core issue under scrutiny was whether EMTALA orders physicians to offer abortions as necessary stabilizing treatment for certain emergency medical conditions.
The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit concluded that EMTALA does not require medical treatments, including abortions, nor does it override Texas law. The ruling upheld a previous lower court’s decision to block the enforcement of the federal guidance in Texas, stating, “… EMTALA does not provide an unqualified right for the pregnant mother to abort her child especially when EMTALA imposes equal stabilization obligations.”
This key ruling emerges in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing states greater authority to regulate or prohibit abortion procedures.
Under current Texas law, abortion is prohibited once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, except in scenarios where the procedure is essential to save the mother’s life or the pregnancy poses a serious risk of substantially impairing a major bodily function. Violations of this law could lead to severe criminal penalties for doctors, including life imprisonment and fines of up to $100,000.
This decision by the Fifth Circuit contrasts with a prior ruling in Idaho, where a federal judge intervened to pause the enforcement of the state’s abortion ban, citing a conflict with EMTALA. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later suspended this lower court ruling pending an appeal from Idaho.