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California Joins 20 States in Lawsuit to Force ER Doctors to Finish Abortions

Attorneys general from 20 states, including California, have signed onto a federal court brief challenging Texas’ lawsuit that disputes a new interpretation of a federal law concerning abortion.

In its original lawsuit, the state of Texas requests a preliminary injunctive relief that would prevent the federal government from enforcing a disingenuous interpretation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The Biden administration has reinterpreted EMTALA to grant protection to doctors who perform an abortion to allegedly “save a patient’s life” – though we know abortion is almost never medically necessary to save a mother’s life.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that EMTALA should not guarantee access to abortion because the Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the Constitution does not include the right to abortion. By overruling Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court sought to “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”  

In response, the attorneys general (including California’s AG Rob Bonta) wrote in their brief that that “emergency abortion care is necessary to avoid serious harmful outcomes (including death) in numerous situations such as when a patient presents with an ectopic pregnancy, severe preeclampsia, complications from abortion including self-induced abortion, and other medical conditions for which immediate medical attention is needed.” 

Congress originally passed the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) in 1986 to ensure that every individual could access emergency medical services in life-threatening circumstances regardless of their ability to pay. 

By interpreting the EMTALA to include abortion, the Biden administration (and the state attorneys general supporting it) is attempting to rebrand abortion as an emergency medical service, which everyone knows it is not. 

“What is emerging now, however, is an effort by the federal government, in league with states that support abortion and the abortion industry, to cynically rebrand abortion as ‘health care,’” wrote Ryan Bangert, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom in an article published by The Hill,” “This approach is both dishonest and dangerous to women.”

Abortion is not medical treatment because pregnancy is not a disease. In fact, abortion is the opposite of health care, as it disrupts a healthy biological process by killing an unborn child. The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine calls abortion “an action whose sole intent is to end” a human life, meaning it “clearly violates the basic tenets of medical ethics.”

The most prominent issue with the states’ brief challenging Texas is that abortion is never medically necessary to protect the life or health of a mother. Dr. Kendra Kolb, a neonatologist, explains “what women need to know is that even in the most high-risk pregnancies there is no medical reason why the life of the child must be directly and intentionally ended with an abortion procedure.”

Dr. Kolb continues: “There are also times when it may be necessary to give a pregnant mother medical treatments which may, tragically, result in the loss of the baby. It is important to understand that these treatments are not abortions.”

The way that a doctor treats an ectopic pregnancy or any other complication may result in the death of the unborn child, but this is not the same as an abortion. For example, some babies do need to be delivered before they can predictably survive on their own outside of the womb, but this is a preterm delivery, not an abortion.

Legally speaking, abortion is the “act of using or prescribing an instrument, a drug, a medicine, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to cause the death of an unborn child.” There is no medical reason for the life of a child to be directly and intentionally ended with an abortion procedure. In fact, an emergency c-section takes under an hour to perform, while a late-term abortion can take two days. No doctor in a lifesaving situation would choose an abortion procedure over an emergency c-section, underscoring the fact that abortion is not medically necessary. 

Texas Attorney General Paxton is right to challenge the Biden administration’s radical interpretation of EMTALA. This federal law cannot logically be interpreted to include abortion, and the government’s dishonesty must be confronted head-on.

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