Healthcare

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Sues Biden Administration Over New Abortion Guidance

Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against the federal government on Thursday.
Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against the federal government on Thursday. Gabriel Aponte/Getty Images
Texas is taking on the White House in the battle over abortion rights.

Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit on Thursday challenging guidance aimed at reassuring doctors who provide emergency abortions that they're protected under federal law. The move comes days after President Joe Biden’s administration instructed hospitals to perform the procedure if the mother’s life is in danger.

In a tweet Thursday, Paxton accused the president of trying to “force abortions” in Texas.

“SCOTUS returned the issue to states. TX law protects pre-born life. Biden’s HHS is attempting to undo all that,” Paxton wrote. “Not on my watch. I just filed suit. I’ll ensure the left’s abortion agenda can’t reach TX babies.”
Paxton isn’t afraid to shoot for the stars when it comes to court challenges. He previously sued four swing states that went for Biden in the 2020 election in an attempt to overturn their electoral results.

His latest complaint accuses the Biden administration of attempting to turn each of the country’s emergency rooms into “a walk-in abortion clinic.” The suit also claims that the president had flouted the democratic process — and the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v. Wade — by having his health department require hospitals to perform emergency abortions.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance on Monday stating that under federal law, physicians must provide abortions for those in life-threatening scenarios, even in states with strict bans. Such emergencies include ectopic pregnancies, “complications of pregnancy loss” and more.

While Paxton is getting litigious, other Texas Republicans are waxing philosophical.

Congressman Chip Roy tweeted a video snippet Thursday in which he interrogates a law professor on when, exactly, life begins.

New York University School of Law’s Melissa Murray, who co-hosts the podcast Strict Scrutiny, argued that the question is a personal one “informed by religious beliefs.” She then pointed out that the First Amendment bars the government from endorsing any one religion.

Roy shot back, saying that the country’s laws defend against murder regardless of age, whether a person is 3 months old or 50 years old.

The Texas Republican tacked on an addendum in the tweet, writing that it’s judges chosen by the “pro-abortion crowd” who decide the answer to when life begins, “irrespective of the Constitution or the will of the people.” (According to a Pew poll published in May, more than 60% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in "all or most cases." Funnily enough, that's why reproductive rights activists have made similar arguments in the wake of the high court’s Roe reversal.)
Yet while Roy has positioned himself as a champion for the unborn, he’s faced criticism over his stance on assisting babies who have already arrived.

In May, Roy was among the 192 House Republicans who declined to endorse a bill geared toward fixing the baby formula shortage. Twenty-one Texas GOP members of Congress joined him in voting against it.
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Simone Carter, a staff news reporter at the Dallas Observer, graduated from the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism. Her favorite color is red, but she digs Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
Contact: Simone Carter