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State of Texas v. Becerra

Description:  The state of Texas is challenging the Biden administration’s attempt to use federal law, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, to force emergency room doctors to perform abortions, even if doing so violates their conscience or religious beliefs.


Pregnant woman and a doctor
Wednesday, Aug 24, 2022

LUBBOCK, Texas – A federal district court issued an order Wednesday that blocks the Biden administration’s attempt to force emergency room doctors to perform abortions even if doing so violates their conscience or religious beliefs. The court determined that the state of Texas and two groups of pro-life physicians are likely to prevail in their case against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations in State of Texas v. Becerra asked the court to halt the administration from employing the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act to force doctors to provide elective abortions in the emergency room while their lawsuit proceeds. The injunction applies in Texas and to the members of AAPLOG and CMDA.

“Emergency room physicians can, and do, treat ectopic pregnancies and other life-threatening conditions. Elective abortion is not life-saving care—it ends the life of the unborn—and the government can’t force doctors to perform procedures that violate their conscience and religious beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life.

“The Biden administration is needlessly, illegitimately, and illegally working to turn emergency rooms into walk-in abortion facilities. Doctors get into their line of work to save lives and care for people—and that’s exactly what they are ethically, morally, and legally required to do,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Bangert, who argued before the court on behalf of the pro-life OB-GYNs. “We’re pleased to see the court halt the administration’s attempt to flagrantly disregard the legislative and democratic process, and we’ll continue to defend those in the medical profession who wish to respect and save lives, not take them.”

“That Guidance goes well beyond EMTALA’s text, which protects both mothers and unborn children, is silent as to abortion, and preempts state law only when the two directly conflict,” the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division, wrote in its opinion. “AAPLOG and CMDA’s members face a substantial threat of enforcement and severe penalties for their inevitable violation of the Guidance’s requirements with regards to abortion.”

  • Pronunciation guide: Harle (HAR’-lee)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT Denise Harle

Denise Harle serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where she is the director of the Center for Life. Prior to joining ADF, Harle served as deputy solicitor general in the Office of the Florida Attorney General, where she drafted appellate briefs and presented oral arguments on behalf of the state in a wide variety of constitutional cases, including defending the constitutionality of pro-life laws. In 2017, she participated in the prestigious Supreme Court Fellow program, sponsored by the National Association of Attorneys General. She clerked for Justice Ricky L. Polston on the Florida Supreme Court and worked for several years as an appellate litigator at a large firm in California. Harle earned bachelor’s degrees, summa cum laude, in psychology and interdisciplinary social science from Florida State University, a master’s degree in political science from Stanford University, and a Juris Doctor from Duke University School of Law. At Duke, she served as the executive editor of Law & Contemporary Problems. A member of the state bars of California, Florida, and Georgia, she is admitted to multiple federal district and appellate courts, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.

ABOUT Ryan Bangert

Ryan Bangert serves as senior vice president for strategic initiatives and special counsel to the president at Alliance Defending Freedom. He oversees ADF's regulatory practice, government relations, and corporate engagement teams. He also advises executive leadership with strategic initiatives and appears as counsel for ADF clients. Before joining ADF, Bangert served as deputy for legal counsel and deputy first assistant attorney general in the office of the Texas attorney general. In those roles, he oversaw the state’s Special Litigation Unit, which handled critical litigation against the federal government, and oversaw multiple divisions within the office. Bangert also served as deputy for civil litigation for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, overseeing the state’s civil litigation portfolio and over 200 attorneys and staff. Prior to his government service, Bangert was a litigation partner at Baker Botts L.L.P. He earned his B.A. from Oral Roberts University, and his J.D. from Southern Methodist University, where he graduated first in his class. He participated in the Blackstone Legal Fellowship program in 2002. Following law school, he clerked for Judge Patrick Higginbotham on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Bangert is an active member of the Texas Bar and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and various federal trial courts and courts of appeal.