(CNSNews) – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), led by Secretary Xavier Becerra, has mandated that doctors in publicly-funded hospitals provide abortions to women with emergency medical conditions, if the physician believes “that abortion is the stabilizing treatment necessary to resolve that condition,” even if state law prohibits the procedure.
Pro-life advocates have denounced the policy as another deceitful way the Biden administration is trying to get around the overturning of Roe v. Wade and to undermine state laws against abortion. Biden and company are “determined to put the full weight of the federal government behind promoting abortion,” said SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Democrats will stop at nothing to promote their agenda of abortion on demand, up until the moment of birth….”
The Biden administration’s memo announcing the new policy, entitled “Reinforcement of EMTALA Obligations specific to Patients who are Pregnant or are Experiencing Pregnancy Loss,” was released on July 11, 2022. The memo clarifies the policy, which forbids doctors that work at public hospitals from denying emergency medical treatment to patients based on their ability to pay.
The guidance states that “emergency medical conditions involving pregnant patients may include, but are not limited to, ectopic pregnancy, complications of pregnancy loss, or emergency hypertensive disorders, such as preeclampsia with severe features.”
It goes on to explain that when physicians determine that an abortion is necessary to treat these emergencies, they must be allowed to perform the operation because “state law is preempted [by EMTALA].”
EMTALA’s and HHS’ application of the law apparently make no religious exceptions to their regime of mandated abortions. The guidance reportedly will force hospitals and doctors who oppose abortion on moral grounds, such as the Catholic hospitals that make up 14.5% of acute care hospitals in the United States, to choose between their code of ethics and compliance with federal guidelines.
HHS’ press office quotes Becerra as saying: “Under the law, no matter where you live, women have the right to emergency care — including abortion care. Today, in no uncertain terms, we are reinforcing that we expect providers to continue offering these services, and that federal law preempts state abortion bans when needed for emergency care. Protecting both patients and providers is a top priority, particularly in this moment. Health care must be between a patient and their doctor, not a politician. We will continue to leverage all available resources at HHS to make sure women can access the life-saving care they need.”
The Catholic Medical Association (CMA), the largest body of Catholics in the health industry, condemned the memorandum. Dr. Marie Hilliard, one of the co-chairs of the CMA’s Ethics Committee had this to say: “Catholic health care agencies and providers have managed these same health crises of mother and baby consistent with EMTALA law and best practices over the decades, while respecting the health and dignity of both,” she said. “They consistently ‘provide stabilizing medical treatment’ to their pregnant patients.”
“Abortion, she said, is not necessary.”
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America released the following statement in response to Biden’s executive order directing Becerra to find ways to protect abortion access, which resulted in the new EMTALA guidance:
“Long gone is the Democratic Party of ‘safe, legal, and rare.’ President Biden has once again caved to the extreme abortion lobby, determined to put the full weight of the federal government behind promoting abortion,” said SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Democrats will stop at nothing to promote their agenda of abortion on demand, up until the moment of birth, paid for by the taxpayers – including dangerous mail-order abortion drugs — even if it means gutting the long-standing filibuster, increasing the size of the Supreme Court, or putting abortionists in tents in national parks."
"We are committed to exposing Democrats’ abortion extremism to voters across key battleground states so this extreme agenda can be soundly rejected at the ballot box this November," said Dannenfelser.
The state of Texas has sued HHS over the memo, citing concerns that EMTALA does not preempt state laws concerning abortion, such as Texas’ ban on abortion that will take effect in the near future.
The Texas lawsuit argues that, “ EMTALA ‘do[es] not preempt any State or local law requirement, except to the extent that the requirement directly conflicts with a requirement of EMTALA.’” EMTALA does not codify any right or access to abortion, so there is no direct conflict between EMTALA and a state law banning abortion, the suit alleges.
Furthermore, the text of EMTALA specifically defines “emergency medical condition” to include threats to the health of a woman’s unborn child.
Commenting on the situation, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell told Newsmax, “The Supreme Court is the is the supreme law of the land. And the Supreme Court stated that that Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional. So what do the Biden administration do?”
“Very quietly one week ago, they quietly let everybody know that their regulations in their opinion supersedes state law, and therefore every -- not only does every private hospital, including Catholic hospitals, have to perform abortions if the patient wants one -- but emergency medical teams have to do it as well,” he said.
“So if you're a pro-life doctor, you, according to the administration, you, by law, have to perform an abortion,” said Bozell. “So much for the Supreme Court and its decision now that Biden -- I mean, they are behaving like dictators when they do something like this. It's unbelievable that the media won’t cover this.”