A federal judge in Texas has blocked Department of Health and Human Services guidance that medical providers who are required to provide emergency care to pregnant patients regardless of their ability to pay for it under federal law must also provide abortion services in life-threatening or health-saving situations and will be protected if those actions violate state law.

Skye Perryman, President and CEO of Democracy Forward, which is representing a coalition of the nation’s leading professional organizations of physicians and public health experts on a brief in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ guidance on the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), issued the following statement in response:

The State of Texas is continuing to push a lawsuit that seeks to jeopardize pregnant patients’ ability to receive emergency care. The court’s preliminary ruling in the Texas case regarding the federal government’s clarifying guidance, while disappointing, cannot change the laws of this country: for more than 35 years physicians and health care facilities have been required under EMTALA to take steps to stabilize patients with emergency medical conditions. Pregnant patients, like all people, are entitled to this care and state laws that conflict with this federal protection are unlawful. We will continue to support the protections for patients provided by EMTALA and oppose efforts by states to undermine those protections.