Abbott orders Texas probe into medical procedures for transgender children

Context: Abbott’s orders stem from a Feb. 18 legal opinion written by Republican State Attorney General Ken Paxton, which found that transition-related medical procedures and treatment may legally constitute child abuse under several provisions of state law.

Attempts by a parent to consent to such procedures and treatments on their child’s behalf could also qualify as child abuse under state law, Paxton said. He also noted that failing to prevent a doctor or parent from providing transition-related care to a minor could be illegal.

“Texas family code is clear – causing or permitting substantial harm to the child or to the growth and development of the child is child abuse,” Paxton wrote in a legal opinion requested by the rep. State Republican Matt Krause and referenced in Abbott’s directive that followed.

“Anyone who conducts or facilitates these procedures or treatments could be implicated in child abuse, whether parents, doctors, counselors, etc.,” Paxton wrote.

Politics: Abbott and Paxton both face significant opposition to their re-election bids as early voting begins ahead of next week’s state primaries.

Abbott protects his right flank against several credible challengers, paving the way for a likely election battle against former Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke. Paxton meanwhile could be heading to a runoff against state lands commissioner George P. Bush, according to a recent Dallas Morning News-University of Texas at Tyler poll.

The reaction: The Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said Paxton’s opinion was not legally binding and argued that the attorney general and governor could instead trigger false reports of child abuse.

“This notice and letter have no legal effect and cannot change Texas law or usurp the constitutional rights of Texas families,” Brian Klosterboer, an attorney for the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement Wednesday. .

“The law clearly states that parents, guardians and doctors can provide transgender youth with treatment that meets current standards of care,” Klosterboer said. “Any parent or guardian who loves and supports their child and takes them to a licensed healthcare provider is not engaging in child abuse.”

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said the agency would follow the law as set out in the attorney general’s notice.

“At this time, there are no ongoing child abuse investigations involving the procedures outlined in this notice,” agency spokesman Patrick Crimmins said in a statement. “If such allegations are reported to us, they will be investigated under existing child protection investigations policies.”


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