12.21.22 – Texas Tribune

“Federal Court Ruling May Prevent Texas Teens from Getting Birth Control Without Parental Permission”
By Eleanor Klibanoff

A woman holding up a thought bubble in front of her face.

Excerpts from this article:


A federal court ruling Tuesday may make it nearly impossible for Texas teens to access birth control without their parents’ permission.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled that Title X, a federal program that provides free, confidential contraception to anyone, regardless of age, income or immigration status, violates parents’ rights and state and federal law.

[Judge Kacsmaryk’s ruling is under appeal. Meanwhile Every Body Texas, which is the statewide administrator for Title X, has decided to require parental consent for minors to receive contraception.]

Kacsmaryk, appointed by President Donald Trump in 2019, is a former religious liberty lawyer who helped litigate cases seeking to overturn protections for contraception. Tuesday’s ruling is expected to be appealed.

The case was brought by Jonathan Mitchell, the former Texas solicitor general who designed the novel law that banned most abortions in Texas after about six weeks of pregnancy. Mitchell has also brought a lawsuit to block requirements in the Affordable Care Act that require employers to cover HIV prevention medications.

Mitchell is representing Alexander Deanda, a father of three who is “raising each of his daughters in accordance with Christian teaching on matters of sexuality, which requires unmarried children to practice abstinence and refrain from sexual intercourse until marriage,” according to the complaint.

Deanda does not want his daughters to be able to access contraception or family planning services without his permission, arguing that Title X’s confidentiality clause subverts parental authority and the Texas Family Code, which gives parents the “right to consent to … medical and dental care” for their children.

Kacsmaryk agreed, ruling Tuesday that Title X violates Deanda’s rights under the Texas Family Code and the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, denying him the “fundamental right to control and direct the upbringing of his minor children.”

Minors in Texas almost always have to get their parents’ permission to get on birth control. Even Texas teens who have already had a baby cannot consent to getting on birth control… 

Texas is also one of just two states that does NOT cover contraception at all as part of its state-run Children’s Health Insurance Program.

While federal regulations say Title X clinics should “encourage family participation … to the extent practical,” they are not allowed to require parental consent or notify parents that a minor has requested or received services.

Kacsmaryk’s ruling “holds unlawful” and “sets aside” that piece of the federal regulation.

Kacsmaryk’s ruling is the latest in a yearslong effort from conservatives to defang the Title X program.

In 2019, the Trump administration issued new regulations that disqualified any clinics that performed or provided information about abortions…

…The Biden administration lifted these regulations in October 2021…

Before becoming a judge, Kacsmaryk worked on cases that opposed access to contraception as deputy general counsel at the First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty legal nonprofit based in Plano. He was involved in at least three legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employer health insurance plans cover contraception.

He also wrote in a 2015 commentary opposing same-sex marriage that “sexual revolutionaries litigated and legislated to remove three pillars of marriage law,” by allowing no-fault divorce, removing criminal penalties for fornication and adultery, and declaring unconstitutional restrictions on contraception and abortion.

When he became a judge, First Liberty said it proved “that a principled attorney may zealously advocate for the rights of religious minorities, conscientious objectors, and faith-based ministries without forfeiting the opportunity to serve on the bench.”

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