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Texas Appeals Court Rules That Dad Can Deny His Teen Contraceptives

Photo illustration by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Photo illustration by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A U.S. Appeals Court ruled on Tuesday that under Texas law, a father can deny birth control from his teen daughter, but may have also saved Title X services in the process.

The plaintiff, father-of-three Alexander Deanda, claimed that Title X, a program which provides funding for medical care to patients under 18, was violating a Texas law which gives parents the right to consent to their teenagers obtaining contraceptives. According to the complaint, neither Deanda nor his daughters have sought the services at Title X clinic.

The case was brought by Jonathan Mitchell the state’s former solicitor general, who was behind the state’s six week abortion ban.

Federal regulations forbid clinics in the Title X program from notifying the parents or requiring their consent. Similar challenges to Title X have been denied on the grounds that requiring this approval violates a minor’s right to privacy.

The original ruling in this case came from District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump-appointee who notoriously went rogue by halting the FDA approval of mifepristone, and has shared strong anti-abortion and conservative views. In December, he held that “the Title X program violates the constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.”

As a result, in January Texas’s Title X Administrator ordered that teens needed to get their parents’ permission before receiving contraceptives at a federally-funded clinic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sought review for this case.

The new ruling affirms Deanda’s standing, but walks back Judge Kacsmaryk’s claim about Title X, instead arguing that the two laws “reinforce each other.”

“A grantee can comply with both,” the ruling said. “Moreover, Title X’s goal (encouraging family participation in teens’ receiving family planning services) and is not undermined by Texas’s goal (empowering parents to consent to their teen’s receiving contraceptives).”

This ruling may help to preserve the existence of Title X in the state of Texas.

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