Last month, a Trump-appointed judge ruled that a federal program which provides contraception to teenagers is unlawful for violating parental rights. While the case will likely bounce through various courts, the decision is having an immediate impact on teenagers in Texas.
In December, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk heard the case Deanda v. Becerra, and ruled on behalf of the plaintiff, who was suing federal programs that provide contraception, which are called Title X. Jonathan Mitchell, the man known as the architect of the abortion ban Senate Bill 8, is the plaintiff’s attorney. After the decision legal scholars noted that the plaintiff didn’t have standing to sue Title X, but that didn’t stop Kacsmaryk.
The North Texas based judge was appointed by Trump to the position in 2019. Ahead of his confirmation he was staunchly opposed by organizations like LAMBDA Legal who noted his disturbing hostility towards LGBTQ rights and Roe v. Wade. Kacsmaryk is a member of the Federalist Society and was a Deputy General Counsel at the First Liberty Institute, a Christian conservative legal organization based out of Texas.
This ruling has put a new onus on clinics in Texas, which are having to maneuver in the wake of the decision. The Title X program was established in 1970 under President Nixon, and has assisted millions of Americans in safe family planning.
In the wake of last year’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, many reproductive rights advocates were sounding the alarm over threats to contraception. In a concurrence of that Supreme Court opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas made it clear he wanted to revisit other decisions from the court, including access to contraception and same-sex marriage.
Last week State Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos filed HB 1176, which would allow teenagers in Texas to consent to “contraception-related examination” without parental approval.