Texas judge bars state from investigating gender-affirming care as child abuse

A Texas district judge on March 11 temporarily blocked a directive from Gov. Greg Abbott that called on state officials to investigate gender-affirming care as child abuse, NPR reported. 

Four notes: 

1. District Judge Amy Clark Meachum in Travis County, Texas, said the directive was not within the governor's authority under the Texas Constitution, and the type of care it targeted had never been investigated prior to the directive. 

2. The ruling came after Mr. Abbott's directive led to a state employee's family being investigated after their daughter received gender-affirming medical care. The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal then sued over the directive. A hearing on the case is set to begin in July. 

3. The governor, backed by a nonbinding opinion by Attorney General Ken Paxton, in February ordered the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents seeking gender-affirming services for their children as child abusers. HHS on March 2 issued guidance that assured providers HIPAA prohibits disclosure of gender-affirming care without an individual's consent in most circumstances. 

4. Houston-based Texas Children's Hospital paused prescribing gender-affirming hormone therapies after the governor's directive, The Houston Chronicle reported March 6. At the time, the hospital said the step was taken "to safeguard our healthcare professionals and impacted families from potential criminal legal ramifications." 

Editor's note: Becker's has reached out to Texas Children's Hospital and will update the report as more information becomes available. 

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