Austin (Nexstar) — Family medicine specialists and reproductive health advocates have raised concerns after a federal judge in Amarillo issued a ruling requiring parental consent for birth control.
The ruling targets the Department of Health and Human Services’ Family Planning Program, known as Title X. The program has provided free and confidential contraceptives since 1970, but prohibits clinics from requiring parental consent before offering assistance to minors. Judge Matthew Kaczmarik overturned the ban in a ruling issued in late December.
“Parental rights to care, custody and control of their children include the right to direct the child’s medical care, which includes the right to consent to the use of contraceptives,” his verdict reads. “The defendants violate [the plaintiff parent’s] rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
One Austin family medicine specialist said the decision would lead to more unwanted pregnancies and rule out birth control as a treatment for non-pregnancy conditions.
“It’s important and wonderful for minors to talk to their parents about their sexual and reproductive health, but that’s not the case for everyone,” said family medicine specialist Dr. Jessica Rubino. “It’s not safe when you basically tell minors that they can’t talk to their doctor, they can’t access their doctor for part of their regular health care.”
More than 150 clinics in Texas receive Title X funding, all of which now require parental consent.
“Adolescents who seek confidential care are making responsible decisions about their health and well-being, and we should applaud them for taking responsibility for their health and future rather than putting up unnecessary and dangerous barriers in their path.” , said the Every Body Texas clinic group. .
Judge Kachmarik, a former religious liberties attorney, was appointed to the federal bench by President Trump in 2017. In confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he stated that his judgment was based on written law, not religion.
“As a district judge, I would not defend clients or a particular policy, but instead I am bound by oath to faithfully apply all Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit precedent,” he said.