Texas AG Ken Paxton files lawsuit to block use of EMTALA to allow abortions

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit in response to the Biden administration's recent efforts to prevent restrictions on abortion access in certain cases.

The suit seeks to block the US Department of Health and Human Services from using the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) to require hospitals to perform abortions. 

"By this move, the Biden Administration seeks to transform every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic," says a release from Paxton's office. "EMTALA does not authorize and has never been thought to authorize the federal government to require emergency healthcare providers to perform abortions."

You can read the lawsuit here.

On Monday, the Biden administration told hospitals that they "must" provide abortion services if the life of the mother is at risk, saying federal law on emergency treatment guidelines preempts state laws that now ban abortions without any exceptions following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last month. 


HHS cited the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) which requires medical facilities to determine whether a person seeking treatment may be in labor or whether they face an emergency health situation — or one that could develop into an emergency — and to provide treatment.

The department said emergency conditions include "ectopic pregnancy, complications of pregnancy loss, or emergent hypertensive disorders, such as preeclampsia with severe features."

In Texas, Senate Bill 8 is already in effect and bans abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which is about six weeks.

However, there are currently questions surrounding the legitimacy of a 1925 law that criminalized abortion. While a Texas judge ordered last month that clinics didn't have to abide by that law and could perform abortions up to six weeks, the Texas Supreme Court halted the order.

It is also unclear exactly when the state’s trigger law, which bans all abortions with some exceptions, will go into effect.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.