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The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

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The battle for contraception continues

Another victory for conservatives in the long march toward limiting reproductive rights as the gavel falls and the decision is formally announced, bringing an abrupt end to the Title X programs in Texas. Host Audrey Cullinane dives into this topic with guests to discuss their thoughts on it.
Title+X+serves+as+an+affordable+healthcare+program%2C+for+those+who+do+not+have+health+insurance.+As+of+December+2022%2C+when+Title+X+was+overruled%2C+Texans+can+no+longer+rely+on+health+centers+to+provide+for+their+contraception+needs.
Asher Hagan
Title X serves as an affordable healthcare program, for those who do not have health insurance. As of December 2022, when Title X was overruled, Texans can no longer rely on health centers to provide for their contraception needs.

As the gavel lands and the ruling becomes official, the longevity of the Title X programs comes to an abrupt halt in Texas, marking another win for conservatives in the long road toward restricting reproductive rights.

Title X is a federal program created in 1970 to provide family planning and preventative health services. This umbrella of services includes providing contraceptives, cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STI), and wellness exams. This program intends to make reproductive healthcare services available to low-income and uninsured individuals, faces extensive backlash from the conservative party.

“I think Title X plays a very important role in adolescent and teen health care and sexual well-being,” junior Olivia Baird said. “But, I think one of the main things that people forget is that these clinics provide STI, pregnancy, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing, which are all super important and potentially life-saving services.”

The program’s ability to provide confidential services to anyone, including minors, has been a high point of controversy; this became the basis for the Deanda v. Becerra court case. Alexander Deanda, a father raising his daughters argued that Title X went against the Christian teaching on matters of sexuality. After two years of deliberation, a Donald Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, ruled that Title X was both unconstitutional and unlawful under the Fourteenth Amendment and the Constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.

“I was taken aback by the fact that the people who brought the case up have never even used Title X benefits before,” English teacher Chrissy Hejny said. “I feel like that’s an abuse of the system. There’s just no reason to prevent anyone from getting reproductive health care, whether it’s because they’re sexually active or not. It’s just a huge overstep from the government.”

Title X serves as an affordable healthcare program, for those who do not have health insurance. As of December 2022, when Title X was overruled, Texans can no longer rely on health centers to provide for their contraception needs.

“Birth control has uses other than preventing pregnancy. It can regulate menstruation, get rid of acne, and reduce PMS symptoms like cramping, mood swings, headaches, and bloating,” Hejny said. “For me, having access to birth control at 15-years-old made my life so much easier. I was able to control the debilitating pain that was associated with my cramps. There’s no good scientific, political, or religious reason to prevent anyone from having that medication, for whatever reason that they need it.”

There’s no good scientific, political, or religious reason to prevent anyone from having that medication, for whatever reason that they need it.”

— Chrissy Hejny, English Teacher

The new restrictions made to Title X prohibits Texas teens from accessing birth control without parental permission. Texas sets the example nationwide for a total repeal of certain forms of healthcare, from contraception to gender-affirming care. 

“This newly appointed federal judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, is affecting so many people in so many drastic ways, and there are going to be long-term consequences,” senior Charlotte Hill said. “I think what people need to recognize is that stopping access to birth control doesn’t stop peoples’ need for it. It’s one more step toward the annihilation of reproductive healthcare.”

More than 100 clinics have closed since the ruling last year. By limiting the number of clinics, accessing necessary healthcare becomes more difficult, as most of Title X’s clientele do not possess the resources to make an extended trip to get birth control from states that offer such medication.

“For many people, Title X was their only option, like those who are first-generation immigrants who have just made it to the states, or people in domestically abusive relationships who can’t pay full price for contraceptives,” Hill said. “This also affects teens who aren’t in the situation to ask a parent to get on birth control. I think this ruling has hurt a lot of people and will continue to do so if Title X is not reinstated to provide full resources to those who need it.”

Almost a year after the initial ruling, the Fifth Circuit Court began to hear oral appeals in November, 2023. However, deliberation was extended, and oral appeals continue as a final ruling has yet to be made.

“Laws should be objective and moral, but the involvement of personal bias, whether that is founded on a religious basis, or if it’s what you have been brought up to believe, cannot be the sole course of decision-making in a legal context, especially in regards to someone’s rights to healthcare,” Hill said. “If it was access to a flu shot or dental care, there wouldn’t be any question about it, but because it is about reproductive health, particularly women’s reproductive health, there is this stigma around it, allowing prejudice to have legal standing.”

Roe v. Wade, a landmark case that federally protected women’s rights to abortion care, was reversed in June 2022, returning abortion rights to state governments. As a result, abortion care has become almost entirely inaccessible in Texas. According to the Texas Tribune this overturning, in conjunction with the new Title X restrictions, has negatively impacted women across Texas.

“The Texas Legislature isn’t thinking straight,” Baird said. “If you have a problem that you want to solve, like teen pregnancies or abortions, you then need to boost the accessibility to contraceptives to resolve these problems, because that is going to be more effective than relying on current sex education, which only teaches abstinence.”

Teenagers and young adults believe they are heavily affected by these rulings and policies. Conversely, awareness of these issues is lacking among that age group; supported by low voter turnout, this demographic is largely unable to enact change.

“Voting is one of the best ways to change these issues, but most students can’t vote yet; there are other options to start trying to make a difference, though,” Hejny said. “Write letters to your senators and congressmen, tell them about the issues that are important to you, how you’re going to be voting in ‘whatever’ amount of years, so they need to make this a priority. When we have a legislative session, go down there, and sign and register your testimony at the Capitol. Gather a whole group of kids, grownups, teachers, whoever you want to take with you, go down there and register your testimony, opposing legislation that would remove reproductive health care from the population of anyone who needs it.”

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