“Federal Appeals Court Limits Government’s Power to Force Texas ER Doctors into Performing Abortions – What Does This Mean for Abortion Rights?”


Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Government’s Authority to Force Texas ER Doctors to Perform Abortions

A federal appeals court has unanimously ruled that the U.S. government lacks the authority to compel emergency room doctors in Texas to perform abortions in order to stabilize patients. The court’s decision comes as multiple lawsuits regarding abortion exceptions for medical emergencies are being litigated.

The Background

In July 2022, the Biden administration issued guidance stating that the federal law governing emergency rooms, known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), could require doctors to perform abortions if necessary to stabilize patients in medical emergencies, regardless of state laws. This guidance was issued shortly after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, which gave states the power to regulate or ban abortion.

The Ruling and its Implications

Writing for the 5th Circuit Court panel, Judge Kurt Engelhardt stated that while EMTALA requires the delivery of an unborn child, it is up to doctors to balance the medical needs of the mother and the fetus while complying with state abortion laws. The court’s ruling supports a lower court order that blocked the enforcement of the Biden administration’s guidance in Texas and against anti-abortion medical associations nationwide.

Controversy Surrounding Texas Abortion Laws

Texas is one of 13 states that heavily restrict abortion at nearly all stages of pregnancy. While the state does allow exceptions, doctors and women argue that the law is so restrictive and vaguely worded that physicians fear providing abortions due to potential criminal charges. This has led to ongoing legal battles over the constitutionality of Texas’ abortion laws.

Impact on Pregnant Women in Texas

The court’s ruling has significant implications for pregnant women in Texas. In December, a pregnant woman in Texas whose baby had a fatal diagnosis sought an abortion but was denied by the Texas Supreme Court. She was forced to leave the state in order to obtain the procedure. This case highlights the challenges faced by women seeking abortions in states with strict abortion laws.

The Future of Abortion Rights

With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the fight over abortion rights has shifted to state supreme courts. These courts will play a crucial role in determining the extent to which states can restrict or ban abortion. The outcome of ongoing legal battles will shape the future of reproductive rights in the United States.


The recent ruling by the federal appeals court reaffirms the limited authority of the U.S. government to compel Texas emergency room doctors to perform abortions. As lawsuits regarding abortion exceptions for medical emergencies continue to make their way through the courts, the battle over abortion rights remains a contentious issue. The decision has significant implications for pregnant women in Texas and highlights the ongoing legal challenges faced by women seeking abortions in states with restrictive laws.