Texas parental consent law for teen contraception doesn't run afoul of federal program, court says

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Texas law requiring that minors have parental permission to get birth control does not run afoul of a federally funded pregnancy health program known as Title X, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

President Joe Biden's administration had argued that Title X preempts the Texas parental consent requirement. But a panel of three judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, largely upholding a 2022 ruling from a Texas-based federal judge.

“Title X’s goal (encouraging family participation in teens’ receiving family planning services) is not undermined by Texas’s goal (empowering parents to consent to their teen’s receiving contraceptives),” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan wrote on behalf of the panel. “To the contrary, the two laws reinforce each other."

It was unclear if the administration would appeal further. The Associated Press sent an email seeking comment to federal officials.

Tuesday's decision upheld much of a ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of Amarillo in a case filed by a Texas father who opposed Title X.

The panel did reverse one part of Kacsmaryk's ruling, however. The district judge had struck down a regulation — adopted after the lawsuit was being litigated — that forbade Title X-funded groups from notifying parents or obtaining consent.

The 5th Circuit said it was too soon to rule on the new regulation and it was not immediately clear how it might affect availability of contraceptives for teens. Attorneys for both sides declined to comment.