A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked the Biden administration from forcing hospitals in the Lone Star State to perform abortions if the health or life of the mother is deemed at risk.

US District Judge James Wesley Hendrix ruled Tuesday that guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services would force doctors to place the health of the woman over that of the unborn child even though the federal law the guidance is based on “is silent as to abortion.”

“[T]he Guidance cannot answer how doctors should weigh risks to both a mother and her unborn child,” Hendrix wrote. “Nor can it, in doing so, create a conflict with state law where one does not exist. The Guidance was thus unauthorized.”

A Texas judge blocked the Biden administration from requiring hospitals to perform abortions if the health or life of the mother is at risk.
A Texas judge blocked the Biden administration from requiring hospitals to perform abortions if the health or life of the mother is at risk.
AP Photo/Eric Gay, File

Hendrix also ruled the guidance couldn’t be enforced against members of two national anti-abortion medical organizations, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.

HHS issued the guidance July 11, weeks after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the issue of abortion to the states.

The department cited requirements placed on medical facilities by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, including one to determine whether a woman seeking treatment might be in labor — or whether they face an emergency or potential emergency health situation — and to provide stabilizing treatment.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called US District Judge James Wesley Hendrix's ruling "wrong" and "backwards."
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called US District Judge James Wesley Hendrix’s ruling “wrong” and “backwards.”
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the ruling “wrong” and “backwards” in a statement, adding that “women may die as a result.”

“The fight is not over,” the press secretary added. “The President will continue to push to require hospitals to provide life-saving and health-preserving reproductive care.”

Texas is set to ban most abortions as of Thursday, with sparse exceptions for saving the unborn child or the mother’s life or preventing serious health conditions, as well as removing ectopic pregnancies. 

The Department of Justice has filed a similar lawsuit in Idaho challenging that state’s abortion ban.



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