Paxton harasses another out of state clinic

Disgusting, but par for the course with our degenerate AG.

A crook any way you look

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is seeking medical records from a Georgia telehealth clinic that offers gender transition care to young people in Texas and other states where the treatment has been banned.

The request, confirmed by the clinic’s founder, is similar to one Paxton sent to Seattle Children’s Hospital last year. Seattle Children’s has sued to block the release. LGBTQ advocates have criticized Paxton’s effort as fear-mongering.

The attorney general has not discussed the Seattle inquiry publicly, and his office has declined to say how many medical facilities it’s targeting in total or why. The agency is seeking to withhold records of any other similar petitions, which Hearst Newspapers requested under the state’s public information law.

But the investigation appears to be broader than originally known.

Karen Loewy, a lawyer with Lambda Legal, which represents Texas families of transgender children, said she has spoken with a “handful” of people whose organizations have received demands similar to Seattle Children’s. She declined to name them or give an exact number.

The provider in Georgia, QueerMed, serves patients from nearly all states, including Texas. The group’s founder, Dr. Izzy Lowell, said she had consulted with her lawyers but couldn’t otherwise comment on how she plans to respond to Paxton’s request.

“I’m not breaking any laws,” Lowell said. “We are doing everything by the book according to state law.”


Legal experts and LGBTQ advocates say Paxton has little power to force hospitals outside of Texas to comply with his demands. The Texas ban, Senate Bill 14, only allows Paxton to sue providers in the state.

“There is nothing in SB 14 that authorizes this whatsoever,” Loewy said. “I don’t really understand how on earth this is anything other than a scare tactic of trying to stop families in Texas from lawfully traveling someplace else to obtain medically necessary care for their kids.”

Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, said Paxton was “grasping for power beyond the state boundaries.”.

He “ has no other motive than to intimidate and terrify law-abiding Texas families, Martinez said.”

Sharona Hoffman, a professor of law and bioethics at Case Western Reserve University, said Paxton’s requests could be blocked by a federal law restricting the release of medical information, known as HIPAA. The law contains an exception for criminal investigations, but it’s unclear what law enforcement role Paxton would be taking – or have the power to take – here.

“A government cannot just say, ‘We’re interested in this, we’re not going to do anything with this, spill the beans,” Hoffman said.

Paxton and the attorney general’s office have been unusually quiet about the inquiry. The agency declined to release records that would name other hospitals or providers targeted by the investigative demand letters, citing pending and anticipated litigation, including the Seattle Children’s case.

See here for more on the Seattle Children’s Hospital case. I’m not qualified to discuss the HIPAA implications of these requests – I Am Not A Lawyer and I know little about HIPAA. My ignorant layman’s guess is that there’s some kind of law enforcement exception that Paxton is using in these demand letters, but again I don’t know. I welcome someone who does know weighing in. Even in my ignorance, I feel pretty confident saying that patient privacy would be a reason why these hospitals would decline to respond. (In the Seattle case, a Washington has cited a law from that state that prevents Seattle Children’s from complying.)

A bigger question is how does Ken Paxton know to target these facilities? What evidence did he have to compel him to send them the demand letters? Again, not a HIPAA expert in any sense, but the fact that patients from Texas were being treated there – assuming, in fact, that they were – seems to me to be knowledge that he shouldn’t have. Are there informants of some kind out there? That sure would open a big can of worms. Or is he just going down a list of facilities that are known to provide gender affirming care to minors and targeting them all? In your televised legal dramas, this is what a judge would call a “fishing expedition” and deny the cops’/prosecutors’ request for a search warrant. How would this be different?

I’m sure there are other, probably better and more on-point questions that could be raised here. Towards that end, given the secrecy with which Paxton is operating here, I hope that both the media outlets that are trying to request this information from the AG’s office as well as groups like Lambda Legal file a lawsuit to force its release. That could obviously take some time, but the principle is too important to let that be an obstacle. Maybe the publicity will spur other providers to come forward if they have been targeted as well. We need a lot of sunshine here.

I’ll keep an eye on this. In the meantime, there’s another matter to discuss.

Civil rights organizations are calling on the United Nations to examine and publicly make statements against anti-LGBTQ legislation and statements from Texas legislators in what the organizations call a “concrete attack against LGBTQIA+” communities in the state.

The 37-page joint letter was sent to working groups at the United Nations. The letter mainly focuses on seven anti-LGBTQ bills passed by the Legislature in its 2023 session. More than 140 anti-LGBTQ bills were filed during the session, according to Equality Texas, which submitted the letter alongside the ACLU of Texas, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign and the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

“Together these laws are a systemic attack on the fundamental rights, dignities, and identities of LGBTQIA+ persons that opens the gates for discrimination by both public and private actors,” said the joint news release.

You can see a copy of the letter here. I admit, my immediate reaction on seeing this story, which I saw before the one I wrote about above, was that it was a futile gesture, since obviously there’s no way this will alter the stance of any homo/transphobic Texas Republican. But clearly the point here is to name and call attention to the problem, which the letter writers correctly identify as a looming human rights crisis. This second known example of Paxton seeking to extort medical information about children is as clear an indicator as there could be. We can’t do much legislatively right now and the courts are tepid at best, but we can make a case for political action and change in this election year. We’ve got to start somewhere. The Statesman, the Trib, and the Observer have more.

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