A federal court ruling Tuesday could make it nearly impossible for Texas teens to access birth control without parental permission.
US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled that Title X, the federal program that provides free, confidential contraception to everyone regardless of age, income or immigration status, violates parental rights and violates state and federal laws.
Kacsmaryk’s ruling likely means teenagers being cared for under the Title X family planning program will no longer be allowed to do so in confidence.
“This ruling threatens the health and lives of young people who may be deprived of access to the health care they need to build healthy lives,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement Explanation .
Kacsmaryk did not issue an injunction immediately barring Title X clinics from offering contraceptives to minors without parental consent.
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Appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2019, Kacsmaryk is a former religious freedom advocate. Previously, he was involved in litigation to remove contraceptive protection.
The case was argued by Jonathan Mitchell, the former Texas attorney general, who was the author of the state’s controversial abortion law, which banned the procedure after about six weeks.
Mitchell also filed a successful lawsuit to challenge an Obamacare rule that requires insurers and employers to cover HIV-prevention drugs.
Mitchell represented a father, Alex Deanda, who said he “raises each of his daughters in accordance with Christian doctrine on matters of sexuality, which requires unmarried children to practice abstinence and abstain from sexual intercourse until marriage.”
In the complaint, Deanda argued that the Title X program restricted parents’ ability to raise their children in accordance with their own religious values.
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Deanda said he “wants to be informed if any of his children access or attempt to access prescription contraceptives and other family planning services.” And he doesn’t want his children to receive or use those drugs or services unless he consents.”
Kacsmaryk agreed, ruling Tuesday that Title X violates Deanda’s rights under the Texas Family Code and the 14th Amendment Due Process Clause, denying him the “fundamental right to control and direct the education of his minor children.”
Title X is the only federal program that provides funds to family planning service providers who serve low-income people.
While federal regulations state that Title X clinics “should encourage family participation … to the extent practicable,” they may not require parental consent or notify parents that a minor has requested or received services.”
Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, said in a statement that Kacsmaryk’s ruling ignored “decades of legal precedent.”
“In a family planning environment, it is critical that adolescents have access to quality, confidential care from a provider who supports and respects their values,” said Coleman. “Title X-funded providers are recognized as highly trusted sources of health information for their patients, and failure to access confidential care blocks a critical pathway to essential health services for young people.”
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Texas has 176 Title X clinics statewide and served more than 180,000 clients in fiscal 2020. The vast majority of Title-X customers in Texas live below the poverty line and have no health insurance. About 5% were under 18 years old.