AG Paxton Urges HHS to Repeal Rule that
Violates the Religious Liberty of Texas’
Faith-Based Foster Care and Adoption
AUSTIN, TX – In a letter today to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Attorney General Ken Paxton urged prompt repeal of an Obama-era rule that violates the religious liberty of Texas’ faith-based foster care and adoption service providers by requiring them to abandon their core religious beliefs as a condition of receiving federal funding under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.
“People of faith should not be required to forfeit their sincerely held religious beliefs as a condition of helping Texas’ most vulnerable children,” Attorney General Paxton said. “We’re asking HHS to repeal its unlawful rule on child welfare funding or, alternatively, grant the state of Texas an exemption from the rule.”
Attorney General Paxton, in his letter to Lynn Johnson, the assistant secretary at HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, pointed out that the rule on Title IV-E funding exceeds statutory authority, violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and conflicts with Texas law.
Last session, the Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 3859, which protects the religious liberty of child welfare organizations and prohibits the state from granting or refusing to grant funding to such organizations because of their religious beliefs, including the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Texas’ share of Title IV-E funding is administered by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) through its Child Protective Services, which works with secular and faith-based communities to find loving homes for children removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect.
Some faith-based providers who receive Title IV-E funding through DFPS require potential foster care or adoptive parents to share a particular religious faith, be a member of a congregation, or agree to the provider’s statement of faith. But the federal rule requires those organizations to abandon their deeply held religious beliefs as a condition of receiving funding.
Police: Mom charged with abuse tried to
have child kidnapped
RALEIGH, NC – A North Carolina woman already charged with child abuse is accused of trying to convince someone to abduct her daughter from her foster home and hide her in Florida until she turns 18.
The News & Observer reports 47-year-old Russell Jay Smith and 38-year-old Lindsey Michelle Smith were charged earlier this year with child abuse for inflicting “serious mental injury” on their pre-teen daughter for more than two years.
They were accused of putting her through “extreme isolation,” forcing her to remain standing for hours, forbidding her from speaking to her siblings and failing to provide her with adequate education.
Lindsey Smith is now charged with soliciting someone to commit a felony and felony obstruction of justice. She’s been ordered held without bail.
AG Paxton Defends State Ban on Barbaric Abortion Procedure at the 5th Circuit
AUSTIN, TX – A legal team from Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office today urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to overturn a lower court ruling blocking part of Senate Bill 8, a law enacted by the Texas Legislature, which prohibits ghastly dismemberment abortions.
Abortion by dismemberment, which is performed in the second trimester, kills fetuses by using forceps to tear them apart limb by limb while they are still alive, causing the unborn child to bleed to death in their mother’s womb. The law does not prohibit other second-trimester abortions.
“My office’s legal team exposed the horrific truth of dismemberment abortions, a gruesome, inhumane, and barbaric procedure that completely disregards respect for human life,” Attorney General Paxton said. “During today’s arguments, we demonstrated that Senate Bill 8 is constitutional, and I’m optimistic that the 5th Circuit will uphold Texas’ lawful authority to protect unborn children from this abhorrent procedure.”
Although the U.S. Supreme Court previously held that states may pass laws to protect and foster respect for unborn life by banning inhumane abortion procedures, the U.S. District Court in Austin ruled against Senate Bill 8 the day before it was to take effect.
The Texas law was put on weeklong trial in November 2017 and the district court ruled in favor of abortion providers who challenged Senate Bill 8. Attorney General Paxton immediately filed a notice of appeal to the 5th Circuit. A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit heard today’s oral arguments.