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Federal Court Ruling Could Require Parents’ Permission For Birth Control In Texas

Texas has the highest repeat teen birth rate in the nation
Photo: Image Point Fr | Shutterstock

A federal court ruling on Dec. 20 could make it impossible for Texas teens to gain access to birth control without parental consent.

According to the Texas Tribune, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a former religious liberty lawyer, ruled that Title X denies parents “a fundamental right to control and direct the upbringing of his minor children.” The ruling forces Texas teens to gain parental consent before accessing birth control and contraceptives. 

Title X is a federal program that provides free, confidential contraception to anyone, regardless of age, income or immigration status. Kacsmaryk ruled that the program violates parents’ rights and state and federal law. But he did not grant an injunction, which would have immediately stopped Title X clinics from providing contraceptive care to those under 18. 

The Title X administrator in Texas, Every Body Texas, explained that they are awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on how to proceed. 

“Teens who seek confidential care are making responsible decisions for their own health and well-being, and we should applaud them for taking responsibility for their health and future rather than throwing unnecessary, dangerous barriers in their way,” the statement said. 

Jonathan Mitchell initially brought the case forward. Mitchell is the former Texas solicitor general who designed the law that banned most abortions in Texas. He is representing Alexander Deanda, a father of three who, according to the complaint, 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.”

Deanda is fighting Title X because he does not want his daughters to gain access to any form of contraception without his permission. Kacsmaryk agreed with Deanda and ruled that the program violates parental rights 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.” 

But minors in Texas already have a difficult time accessing birth control, even though the state has the highest repeat teen birth rate in the nation. Teens almost always have to get their parental consent before going on birth control. Texas is also one of just two states that doesn’t cover contraception at all due to the state-run Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“This ruling threatens the health and lives of young people, who may be stripped of their ability to access the health care they need to build healthy lives,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

The Texas Tribune reported that the ruling is expected to be appealed.