CV NEWS FEED // The state of Texas and seven national Catholic healthcare organizations filed an amicus curiae brief in the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on July 7, asking the court to uphold the injunction previously issued by a district court against a 2022 Health and Human Services mandate that required doctors to perform abortions in emergency rooms.
The HHS mandate, issued in June 2022, reinterpreted the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which states that emergency rooms at hospitals participating in Medicare are required to perform medical screening examinations on all individuals if they request it. The EMTALA is designed to minimize health risks “to the individual’s health and, in the case of a woman in labor, the health of the unborn child.”
“To assert that abortion—which is the intentional termination of an unborn child’s life—is permitted, or even required, under EMTALA is contrary to the unambiguous text and intent of the statute,” the defendants wrote in the amicus curiae brief, which is essentially a document submitted by a party with an interest in making the court aware of its opinion and attempting to influence the judge’s ruling.
“The guidance memorandum issued by CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services], along with an email letter from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to all health care providers, stated that, in certain circumstances, intentional abortion is required in response to an emergent complication that arises during pregnancy,” the defendants continued. “There is absolutely zero Congressional authorization under EMTALA for HHS to require emergency departments to perform abortions. To the contrary, there are clear Congressional enactments protecting the medical conscience and religious freedom rights of medical professionals and health care entities to decline to participate in abortions.”
Texas and the Catholic healthcare providers are represented by the Thomas More Society, a non-profit law firm supporting life, family, and freedom. Tyler Brooks, the Thomas More Society Senior Counsel, said that the HHS requirement violates more laws than EMTALA.
“Trying to force a physician to take the life of an unborn child under a law that is expressly designed to save lives is not only contradictory, but also ludicrous,” Brooks said in a press release. “An elective abortion is an intentional choice to kill a preborn baby and emergency medical treatment is intended to preserve life. This act, as interpreted by the Biden Administration, violates the conscience rights of medical personnel who believe that abortion is immoral. It is a blatant violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
“This is not about ectopic pregnancy or any situation where a mother’s life is in danger,” Brooks continued. “This is about elective abortion. This is about attempting to force live-saving emergency medical practitioners to take lives in a non-emergency situation. The only life at risk in this scenario is that of the preborn child.”