A federal appeals court delivered a resounding victory to a coalition of Christian medical professionals on Tuesday, upholding their objection to guidance from the Biden administration that compelled emergency room doctors to perform abortions. The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and the state of Texas jointly contested the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) directive, securing a significant win at the lower court. The 5th Circuit, in a unanimous decision, upheld the lower court’s ruling, as reported by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the legal representation for the association.
At the center of the dispute was the HHS’s interpretation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which the court deemed did not mandate specific medical treatments, including abortion. The judges emphasized that EMTALA focused on preventing hospitals from denying emergency services to individuals incapable of paying and did not confer an unqualified right for pregnant mothers to seek abortions.
In response to the court’s decision, ADF Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Ryan Bangert, expressed satisfaction in a press release. Bangert emphasized the importance of upholding the Hippocratic Oath, stating, “[d]octors shouldn’t be forced to break the Hippocratic Oath, and they shouldn’t have to choose between violating their deeply held beliefs or facing stiff financial penalties and being barred from the Medicare program.”
He further clarified the distinction between emergency medical care and elective abortion, asserting that while emergency room physicians address life-threatening conditions, abortion is not categorized as life-saving care. Bangert concluded, “We are pleased that the courts are allowing emergency rooms to fulfill their primary function—saving lives.”
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) January 4, 2024
This verdict marks a significant win for medical freedom and religious liberty, setting a precedent against the imposition of mandates that clash with the core principles held by healthcare professionals.