A federal judge Friday blocked a new Alabama law that had made it a felony for doctors to prescribe puberty blockers and hormone treatment to minors, just one week after the law took effect.
U.S. District Judge Liles Burke issued a preliminary injunction on Friday to block the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act amid a legal challenge against the legislation. The law was the first of its kind law and state attorney general Steve Marshall suggested he would appeal the ruling.
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Alabama GOP Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement Saturday morning that the ruling is a “temporary legal roadblock.”
“We will continue fighting to protect Alabama’s children from these radical, unproven, life-altering drugs, despite this temporary legal roadblock,” Ivey said. “It is especially important while they are at such a vulnerable stage in life. We will continue to uphold our duty to ensure that children are free to grow up into the adults God intended them to be, even with today’s societal pressures and modern culture.”
The law made it a felony to provide puberty blockers, hormone treatments or transition surgery to anyone under 19 years old, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The part of the law criminalizing transition surgery will remain in effect.
The judge also left a measure in place requiring counselors and other school officials to notify parents if a minor reveals that they believe they are transgender.
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A lawsuit from four families with transgender children had been filed and alleges that the law is discriminatory, an unconstitutional violation of equal protection and free speech rights and that it intrudes on family medical decisions. The Department of Justice joined the lawsuit.
The Trump-appointed judge ruled that Alabama had not provided any credible evidence to prove that the medications are “experimental.”
He said, “the uncontradicted record evidence is that at least twenty-two major medical associations in the United States endorse transitioning medications as well-established, evidence-based treatments for gender dysphoria in minors.”
He also cited testimony from a mother who said she feared her child would commit suicide if access to the transitioning medications was blocked.
“Enjoining the Act upholds and reaffirms the ‘enduring American tradition’ that parents — not the states or federal courts — play the primary role in nurturing and caring for their children,” the opinion reads.
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The law was one of several bills in GOP-led states to center on transgender youth. However, the Alabama bill was the first to make it a felony for physicians to provide the medications.
A judge blocked a similar law in Arkansas last year before it went into effect.
Legislation prohibiting Arkansas doctors from providing gender-affirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18 years old was initially vetoed by Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson last spring, but the state legislature overruled the veto. The bill was blocked by a federal judge in July.