A federal judge in Texas set aside a rule allowing teenagers to access birth control from providers participating in a federal family planning program without their parents’ permission.
The ruling from U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk on Tuesday likely means that teenagers who receive care through the Title X family planning program will no longer be allowed to do so confidentially.
Kacsmaryk ruled that the Title X program, which provides free and confidential contraception, cancer screenings and other services to millions of low-income women and men, violates the constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Title X clinics are often the only ongoing source of healthcare and health education for the people who use them.
Kacsmaryk, nominated by former President Trump in 2017 and confirmed in 2019, is a former attorney for a Christian legal advocacy group who helped businesses fight against contraceptive mandates.
Reproductive advocacy groups condemned the ruling and said it could have far-reaching consequences.
“Opponents of reproductive rights are not satisfied with overturning Roe–they want to take away birth control from young people, and restrict access to essential sexual and reproductive health care wherever they can,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood.
“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,” she said.
Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, drew a straight line from the case that overturned Roe v. Wade to attacks on the Title X program.
“Despite the fact that the right to contraceptive access is protected by the U.S. Constitution for all, including adolescents, this ruling seeks to lay the foundation to undo that right,” Coleman said in a statement.
“Title X-funded providers are considered highly trusted sources of health care information for their patients, and not being able to access confidential care will block a critical pathway to essential health services for young people.”
The case was argued by Jonathan Mitchell, the former Solicitor General of Texas who was the author of the state’s controversial abortion law that banned the procedure after about six weeks and allows any private citizen to sue doctors or abortion clinic employees.
Mitchell also brought the successful lawsuit to challenge ObamaCare’s rule that requires insurers and employers to cover HIV prevention drugs.
Mitchell represented a man named Alex Deanda, who said he was “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.”
In the complaint, Deanda argued the Title X program interferes with the ability of parents to raise their children in accordance with their own religious values.
Deanda said he “wishes to be informed if any of his children are accessing or attempting to access prescription contraception and other family-planning services. And he does not want his children to obtain or use these drugs or services unless he consents.”
Kacsmaryk granted summary judgment on Dec. 8, and on Tuesday he issued a final ruling that sets aside the confidentiality portion of the Title X law, though he did not grant an injunction prohibiting clinics from providing contraception to minors without parental consent.