Federal Judge Makes Surprising Move in Contraception Dispute

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The Family Planning Program was established by Congress in 1970 as part of Title X of the Public Health Services Act (PHS). The program offers government subsidies to nonprofit organizations that, among other activities, provide family planning services. The Department of Health and Human Care (HHS) updated its policies in 2021 to incorporate teen-friendly medical services.

On December 8, a federal judge sided with a father who argued that medical facilities covered by Title X must stop receiving government funding if they refuse to obtain parental consent for patients under the age of 18. The dad stated that he believes unmarried teens should abstain from sexual activity until marriage and that he teaches his girls about sexuality in the framework of the Bible. Some claim that this is the first step toward outlawing contraception.

Prior to 2000, the Parental Rights Doctrine was upheld by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS). A number of judicial decisions have repeatedly affirmed parents’ fundamental rights to raise their children. Unless they are legally shown to be unfit to raise a child, the high court has frequently recognized that parents are the best people to care for minors and raise them as they see fit. In Troxel v. Granville, the court held in 2000 that states and individual courts might impose their own parental rights laws.

Two conservative justices contributed to the perplexing situation. In his opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia stated that parents’ rights were not guaranteed by the constitution. They should be given the same strong legal protections as other fundamental freedoms, according to Clarence Thomas.

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the Federal District Court seems to have sided with Thomas. This has led some, including Ian Millhiser of Vox, to claim that the Deanda v. Becerra ruling was an attack on Title X.

The judge came to the conclusion that the parents’ right to raise their children was violated by the government’s implementation of Title X.

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