TEXAS VIEW: Paxton’s pursuit of transgender medical records knows no (state) bounds

THE POINT: Texas Attorney General manipulates culture wars for his own political gain.

By crossing state lines in pursuit of the medical records for transgender Texans, indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton has once again crossed another line — one of privacy and decency.

In November, Paxton demanded that Seattle Children’s Hospital provide medical records for the number of Texas children who have received treatment at the hospital. This would include diagnoses, medications and treatment protocols.

Last month, Seattle Children’s Hospital filed suit, requesting that a Travis County judge toss the subpoena.

Paxton’s request for private medical information follows a recent state ban of gender-affirming treatment for Texas minors.

Since transgender youths in Texas can’t receive hormone therapy and puberty blockers for gender dysphoria, it’s hardly surprising those with supportive families and financial means would travel out of state for care. These families don’t need a permission slip from the Texas attorney general to receive medical care in another state.

These are private medical decisions made between the patients, their parents and medical providers. And they often are lifesaving treatments, given the high rates of suicide and the mental health challenges transgender youths experience. Paxton has reduced these decisions to political exploits, injecting himself into the inner workings of people’s lives. To what end?

Those are just some of the ethical concerns Paxton’s actions pose, but on the legal front, just what standing does Paxton have?

Paxton has said there may have been a violation of the the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. But as Express-News reporter Cayla Harris outlined, Seattle Children’s Hospital has called Paxton’s demands for records “sham requests.” The hospital does not provide medical treatment or telemedicine in Texas. It does not market gender-affirming care for minors here. There are no state tax dollars involved in this care. Just how is this Paxton’s business?

It’s not, of course.

In terms of disrespecting privacy and dishonoring decisions made between patients and doctors, this is eerily similar to the Kate Cox abortion case that captured the nation’s attention in December.

Cox sought a medically necessary abortion after learning her fetus had a genetic disorder. The pregnancy was not viable, and it also put Cox’s health and future fertility at risk.

While a Travis County judge granted Cox’s request, Paxton not only successfully appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, but he also successfully made threats, sending letters to various Houston medical providers warning them not to provide Cox with an abortion.

Politicians such as Paxton manipulate the culture wars for their own political gain, ignoring the complicated implications for people’s lives. Just what is Paxton accomplishing in politicizing medical records of Texans in other states? Just whose interest is he serving?

Show some human decency, and leave these families and children alone.

San Antonio Express-News