The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB) celebrates the decision on Jan. 2, 2024, by the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the permanent injunction of a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidance issued last summer. In its decision in State of Texas v. Becerra, the court held that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) does not require emergency room physicians to provide abortions.
The full statement of the TCCB follows.
We celebrate the decision by the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the permanent injunction of the inappropriate Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidance issued last summer. The court's decision affirms that this attempt to require abortions violates both the Texas Human Life Protection Act and the principles of the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives for Healthcare. In the amicus brief submitted by the Texas bishops and the members of the Catholic Healthcare Leadership Alliance we stated, “To assert that abortion—which is the intentional termination of an unborn child’s life—is permitted, or even required, under EMTALA is contrary to the unambiguous text and intent of the statute.” We are gratified the justices upheld the clear text of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act ( EMTALA), which explicitly and intentionally protects unborn human life.
Catholic hospitals, including in Texas, have been providing compassionate care for women and babies (born and unborn) for centuries without elective abortions, and in full compliance with EMTALA since its inception. The new law in Texas has not impacted their ability to provide consistent care for these families in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives approved by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. As the Church continues to accompany mothers and their children in this special way, we echo the exhortation of Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia:
'Every child growing within the mother’s womb is part of the eternal loving plan of God the Father: 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you' (Jer 1:5). Each child has a place in God’s heart from all eternity; once he or she is conceived, the Creator’s eternal dream comes true' (no. 168 ).