Merrick Garland Rips Texas Challenge to HHS Abortion Guidelines

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The fallout from the SCOTUS’s shocking decision in overruling Roe v. Wade continues apace with the latest front opened in Texas, where the state has sued to resist federal HHS Guidelines on the proper medical care for women in the Emergency Medical Treatment Act. [EMTALA]. Attorney General Merrick Garland made it clear yesterday that the federal government was prepared to hammer Texas with clear federal law.

During a brief availability with reporters, Garland affirmed that the Justice Department would hold anyone and everyone who criminally attempted to overcome a legitimate election would be held accountable and then aggressively transitioned into answering a question pertaining to Texas’s challenge to the HHS Guidelines regarding EMTALA. The transcript comes from Mediaite:

REPORTER: The state of Texas recently sued the Biden administration over new rules that said doctors must be able to perform abortions in emergency situations. What is your response to that? And just sort of what is the Justice Department’s next step on Dobbs more broadly?

GARLAND: On the state of Texas and on the abortion question, the Justice Department is going to use every tool we have to ensure reproductive freedom…

… But with respect to what you just said, I can tell you one thing’s for certain. We are going to file a motion to dismiss the Texas lawsuit. Texas is challenging an HHS guidance under the Emergency Medical Treatment Act, which is called [EMTALA].

This could not be more straightforward. That act requires hospitals to provide stabilizing care for a patient who comes in with a medical emergency that seriously jeopardizes their life or their health. And where that stabilizing treatment is abortion, they must provide the abortion! And they must do so, notwithstanding a state law that is so narrow that it doesn’t even protect a woman’s life or health. It is expressly preempted by the [EMTALA] statute and is expressly preempted by our system of federalism, expressed by the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

We are going to enforce federal law here.

Given that many Democrats have spent much of Biden’s tenure frustrated with the apparent lack of accountability directed at former Trump administration officials, it is heartening to hear that Garland is adamant and committed to doing everything in his power to ensure that women – already second-class citizens in too many states, aren’t relegated even lower and exposed to greater dangers in Texas and elsewhere if in the midst of a life-threatening emergency.

The Justice Department must work with impunity to ensure that the law is clearly and aggressively enforced such that doctors and hospitals will not question their duty when a woman arrives through the emergency room doors with her health in the balance.



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