A Texas judge has ruled against a federal program that enabled minors to obtain birth control from physicians without informing their parents, but did not block clinics from providing them.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled Tuesday that the Title X program violates parental rights and state law.
While he struck down the secrecy component of the Title X program, Kacsmaryk didn’t impose an injunction barring clinics from giving contraceptives to adolescents without parental consent.
According to the ruling (pdf), the secrecy rule violated a Texas Family Code section that gives parents the right to decide their child’s medical care, as well as parents’ 14th Amendment right to control and direct the upbringing of their minor children.
Title X was enacted by Congress to make “comprehensive voluntary family planning services readily available to all persons desiring such services.” Parental consent is no longer required for minors to access such services under current Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations.
Attorney Jonathan Mitchell, who used to be Texas’s solicitor general, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Texas father-of-three Alexander Deanda, a Christian who wants to raise his daughters according to his faith’s teachings on abstinence.
According to the complaint (pdf), in so far as the Texas Family Code protects Deanda’s right to consent to his minor child’s medical care, the law, therefore, protects his choice to raise 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.”
Deanda also argued that Title X didn’t preempt federal parental consent laws. He alleged that the rule violated his statutory rights, subverted his parental authority, and caused him to suffer a “loss of assurance that his children will be unable to access prescription contraception or other family planning services that facilitate sexual promiscuity and pre-marital sex.”
He also argued that the Title X program weakened his ability to raise his children under the teachings of his Christian faith. However, Kacsmaryk ruled against the claim his religious freedom was violated.
The lawsuit was first filed in April 2020.
Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, had previously granted summary judgment on Dec. 8. He used to work as a religious liberty lawyer who assisted in cases seeking to repeal contraceptive protections.
Every Body Texas, the statewide organization that has administered the Title X program since 2013, says that thousands of teens under the age of 18 access the services of its funded clinics yearly, “many with the consent and knowledge of their parent or guardian.”
Title X is a federal grant program created in 1970. Every Body Texas says its Title X clinics provide contraception, contraception counseling, some cancer screenings, tests and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and other exams.