Court Upholds Alabama Ban on Care for Trans Youth

Federal appeals court says state can enforce ban on puberty blockers, hormone treatment
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 22, 2023 5:24 PM CDT
Court Upholds Alabama Ban on Care for Trans Youth
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall speaks with members of the media outside the Supreme Court, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Alabama can enforce a ban outlawing the use of puberty blockers and hormones to treat transgender children, the second such appellate victory for gender-affirming care restrictions that have been adopted by a growing number of Republican-led states. A three-judge panel of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a judge's temporary injunction against enforcing the law, the AP reports. The judge has scheduled a trial for April 2 on whether to permanently block the law.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall called the ruling a "significant victory for our country, for children, and for common sense." In lifting the injunction, the judges wrote that states have "a compelling interest in protecting children from drugs, particularly those for which there is uncertainty regarding benefits, recent surges in use, and irreversible effects." The decision leaves families of transgender children who had been receiving treatment, scrambling for care. The injunction will remain in place until the court issues the mandate, which could take several days. But once it is officially lifted, the attorney general's office will be able to enforce the ban, which threatens doctors with prison time.

Advocacy groups representing families who challenged the Alabama law vowed to continue the fight, saying "parents, not the government, are best situated to make these medical decisions for their children." Major medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, oppose the bans and experts say treatments are safe if properly administered. Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, a Birmingham pediatrician, said in a statement Monday that she is hopeful "today's decision is just a temporary setback."

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"As a doctor who has treated hundreds of transgender adolescents, I know firsthand the challenges these young people and their families face and the benefits these treatments provide to youth who need them. This is safe, effective, and established medical care. There is no valid reason to ban this care," Ladinsky said. The ruling follows a string of decisions in recent weeks against similar bans. A federal judge in June struck down a similar law in Arkansas, the first state to enact such a ban. Bans have also been temporarily blocked by federal judges in Florida, Indiana, and Kentucky. A federal appeals court has allowed Tennessee's ban, which had been blocked by a federal judge, to take effect. (More transgender stories.)

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