With the federal government attempting to advance abortion access, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration directly and joining in another lawsuit.
The Biden administration, through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced that pharmacies must now be required to provide abortion drugs to women who request them. HHS then proceeded to threaten to remove Medicaid and Medicare funds from pharmacies that refuse to fall into line with the administration’s new guidelines.
“I’m filing a new lawsuit against the Biden Admin to stop unlawful guidance issued by HHS that would force every pharmacy in America to transform into an abortion-on-demand clinic or face the loss of Medicaid and Medicare funds,” said Paxton.
Paxton’s lawsuit would “halt it [the Biden Administration] from illegally forcing pharmacies across America to provide abortifacients, which are prescription or over-the-counter drugs that induce abortions.”
According to Paxton’s lawsuit, the Biden administration has “repeatedly attempted to impose through executive fiat a federal right to abortion that does not exist.”
The question of abortion is not something that the Biden administration gets to decide on, the lawsuit explains; the issue must be left up to people’s elected representatives.
“The Biden Administration’s attempt to inject itself into that question is both procedurally and substantively illegal,” the suit alleges. “The Pharmacy Mandate was adopted without following the required procedures. It misrepresents federal law. It usurps pharmacies’ duty to comply with Texas law. It misconstrues and violates the Spending Clause. By any measure, the Pharmacy Mandate is improper.”
The lawsuit was praised by Texas State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Midlothian):
I’m proud to have served as Chief of Staff of the most pro-life U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in history, and I applaud Attorney General Paxton for suing my former agency on their blatantly illegal and unconstitutional attempt to push Biden’s radically pro-abortion agenda and force Texas to allow medication abortion contrary to our laws. Abortion medication has been proven to be highly dangerous, yet Biden’s HHS continues to push their use while at the same time banning things like safe COVID-19 treatments and imported baby formula. We must use every tool available to protect Texas, our laws, and the babies and women they are saving from Biden’s federal overreach.
“The Biden Administration knows that it has no legal authority to institute this radical abortion agenda, so now it’s trying to intimidate every pharmacy in America by threatening to withhold federal funds,” Paxton said in a statement. “It’s not going to work. Texas and several other states across the country have dutifully passed laws to protect the unborn, and we are not going to back down just because unelected bureaucrats in Washington want to create illegal, extremist federal policies.”
But the lawsuit was not the only action Paxton took against chemical abortion this week.
A letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was written and signed by Paxton along with 14 other AGs last November, “challenging a new VA rule that attempts to circumvent state laws that protect the unborn by providing taxpayer dollars for abortions.”
After this letter was sent, a VA nurse who opposes the new VA rule filed a lawsuit against Denis McDonough, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs as a whole.
Paxton joined 15 other AGs in drafting an amicus brief on behalf of the nurse, to block the VA from providing taxpayer-funded abortions.
According to the brief, in September 2022 the Department of Veterans Affairs adopted an interim final rule that “purports to authorize taxpayer funded abortions and abortion counseling for certain veterans and their beneficiaries.”
The brief explains that the reasons why the court ruling in favor of the nurse and preventing the rule’s enforcement would appeal to the public:
First, the rule was issued without statutory authority and so it disserves the public interest. Second, the rule defies the public interest determinations made by the amici States, which are entrusted with balancing the relevant policy and equitable considerations in this area. Last, the rule obstructs and hinders the amici States’ enforcement of duly enacted laws and thus undercuts the public interest that those laws promote.
For years, abortions and abortion care were specifically excluded from medical benefits packages offered to veterans, aside from cases of rape or incest and when the mother’s life was endangered by carrying her unborn child to full term.
However, on September 9, 2022, the VA “adopted the interim final rule, green-lighting taxpayer-funded abortions and abortion counseling for certain veterans and beneficiaries.”
The brief states, “The VA’s rule is deeply flawed. It rests on a claim of legal authority that the VA does not have, it flouts the public-interest determinations that States have properly made, and it undermines the public interest in the enforcement of validly enacted state laws. These features strongly support injunctive relief against the rule.”
The attorneys general explain in the brief, “The severe problems catalogued above reveal the unsettling truth that animates the rule. The fact that States already soundly legislate in this area suggests that the real motivation behind the VA’s rule is to create a mechanism for allowing purely elective abortions that States have properly prohibited or to send a political signal to the Administration’s political base—or both.”
The brief was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, in Waco, Texas, for the case of Carter v. McDonough.
Late last week, Paxton revamped his fight against abortion by joining 22 attorneys general across the country in sending a letter to the FDA regarding chemical abortion. This week, Paxton’s lawsuit against the Biden administration and amicus brief against the VA reveals that he is not done fighting for the unborn and pregnant women.
Chelsey Youman, national legislative advisor with Human Coalition Action, told Texas Scorecard, “We are grateful to leaders like Attorney General Paxton who are challenging these abuses of law. This administration has recklessly expanded abortion on a mass scale through its coercive ‘Pharmacy Mandate’ and by funding abortions in the military with taxpayer dollars. The attorneys general are some of the few strongholds able to stand in the gap on behalf of children in the womb.”
“The [Biden] administration’s goal is to make our neighborhood pharmacies and homes into abortion facilities and fund abortion with taxpayer dollars—which is an abomination,” said Youman. “We should instead invest our resources into true life-affirming policies.”
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