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Federal Appeals Court Rules Texas Teens Need Parental Permission for Birth Control!


CNS NewsA federal appellate court has upheld a Texas law requiring parental consent for minors seeking to access birth control. The ruling, against the federal government and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Director Xavier Becerra, was made by a three-judge panel on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision partially upholds a December 2022 lower court ruling that blocked federally funded family planning clinics from providing contraception to teens without proof of parental agreement.

Under HHS regulations, teenagers have the right to access confidential contraception services at Title X clinics, which are funded by federal grants. These clinics provide birth control to anyone who seeks it, and federal regulations forbid them from asking patients who are minors for proof of parental consent. Former Texas solicitor general Jonathan Mitchell filed a case challenging the Title X regulation in 2022, arguing that it violates state law and infringes upon Texans’ rights to direct the upbringing, education, and health care of their children.

The plaintiff, Alexander Deanda, an Amarillo father of two girls, stated that the regulations prevent him from raising his daughters “by Christian teaching on matters of sexuality.” Judges Priscilla Richman and Catharina Haynes, appointed by former President George W. Bush, and Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, appointed by former President Donald Trump, ruled largely in Deanda’s favor. They stated that Texas law does not preempt federal statutes governing Title X, which say “family participation” should be encouraged “to the extent practical.”

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However, the three-judge panel left the federal statute prohibiting Title X clinics from requiring parental consent for birth control access in place, rejecting the decision from U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk to vacate that regulation. Everybody, a nonprofit that administers federal funds to more than 150 Title X clinics across the state, stated that the ruling is unclear and that it is seeking further guidance from the federal government on its effects. Nonetheless, it means Texas clinics will continue to require parental consent to provide birth control to minors while Everybody “continues to analyze the full implications of the ruling.”

Groups including the American College for Obstetricians and Gynecologists, liberal nonprofit Progress Texas, and a coalition of 24 Democratic state attorneys general filed friend-of-the-court briefs asking the 5th Circuit Court to reject the lower court’s ruling. Former state Sen. Wendy Davis noted that the right to access confidential care is particularly important for members of historically marginalized groups, such as Texans of color, people of low-income backgrounds, and those who live in rural communities.

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