US appeals court rules Texas can ban emergency abortions despite federal guidance

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Texas can ban emergency abortions, despite President Joe Biden’s administration arguing that federal guidance should take priority over state laws banning the procedure.

“The Texas plaintiffs’ argument that medical treatment is historically subject to police power of the states, not to be superseded unless that was the clear and manifest purpose of Congress, is convincing,” Judge Kurt Engelhardt, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, wrote in his opinion.

Texas had sued the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over its guidance on the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which says health providers who perform abortions in emergencies are protected under federal law.

A federal judge in Texas blocked the federal agency from enforcing the guidance in Texas in 2022, and the HHS appealed the decision afterward.

Last month, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a pregnant woman, Kate Cox, who was suing the state over its abortion ban, was not permitted to undergo an emergency procedure in the state.

Cox, who learned that her fetus had a fatal diagnosis, ultimately left the state to obtain the necessary procedure.

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