A federal appeals court ruled on Monday that Alabama can enforce a law that bans puberty blockers and hormone therapy to treat children who identify as transgender.
A three-judge panel of the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals removed a judge’s temporary injunction against enforcing the law. However, the Associated Press reported that the judge has set a trial date for April 2 to decide whether to permanently block the law.
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 judges also said, “In sum, Plaintiffs’ assertion that the Constitution protects the right to treat one’s children with puberty blockers and cross-sex hormone therapy is precisely the sort of claim that asks courts to ‘break new ground in [the] field [of Substantive Due Process]’ and therefore ought to elicit the ‘utmost care’ from the judiciary.”
However, the injunction is to remain in place until the court issues the mandate, which could take several days. But when the injunction is officially lifted, the attorney general’s office will be able to enforce the ban. Doctors could face prison time if they go against the ruling.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall referred to the ruling as a “significant victory for our country, for children, and for common sense.”
“The Eleventh Circuit reinforced that the State has the authority to safeguard the physical and psychological well-being of minors.”
However, advocacy groups that believe parents should allow their children to undergo irreversible hormone treatment said “parents, not the government, are best situated to make these medical decisions for their children.”
“Our clients are devastated by this decision, which leaves them vulnerable to what the district court — after hearing several days of testimony from parents, doctors, and experts — found to be irreparable harm as a result of losing the medical care they have been receiving and that has enabled them to thrive,” a joint statement said from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
While the ruling only applies to the ban in Alabama, similar rulings have been handed down in other states across the country. Many of the bans are being challenged in court.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey in 2022 signed the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act in law, which made it a felony and punishable by up to 10 years in prison for doctors to treat minors with puberty blockers or hormones.
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