THE LATEST: On May 1, 2023 on behalf of a coalition of medical organizations representing hundreds of thousands of health professionals, Democracy Forward filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Deanda v. Becerra.
The medical community in this brief – including American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine – underscores that the Constitution does not force HHS to prioritize one plaintiff’s desire to prevent his own children from using contraception over the rights of all adolescent children to seek confidential care.
Created by the Nixon Administration with bipartisan support in 1972, the Title X family planning program is now more than five decades old and is the nation’s only federal program dedicated to providing affordable birth control and other sexual and reproductive health care to people with low incomes. It funds essential health care services like birth control counseling and methods, STI testing and treatment, breast and cervical cancer screenings, pre-pregnancy care, and more.
Leading medical organizations have made it clear that young people need access to confidential health care services–particularly around sexual and reproductive health. While parental involvement is preferred and appropriate in most cases, confidentiality has been shown to increase minors’ willingness to seek care.
But in December 2022, Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee to a federal court in Texas, declared unlawful the decades-old promise that young people who receive care through the Title X family planning program may do so confidentially.
This ruling goes against all precedent and could have devastating effects for young people nationwide, including increasing the risk of unintended pregnancy and untreated sexually transmitted infection.
While clinicians encourage adolescents to include parents and guardians in their reproductive, mental health, and substance use care, research has shown that adolescents that lack access to confidentiality are more likely to withhold information from their healthcare providers, delay care, or not seek help at all.
Most adolescents voluntarily involve parents and other trusted adults in decisions regarding reproductive health care and should be encouraged to do so when safe and appropriate.
But adolescents who aren’t comfortable involving a parent shouldn’t be denied this essential health care.