A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Alabama can enforce a law that would block harmful and experimental puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and mutilating irreversible surgeries for children and teens who struggle with gender confusion.
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a judge’s temporary hold on the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act.
The law would penalize doctors and healthcare providers with up to 10 years in prison or a $15,000 fine, or both, if they prescribe puberty blockers or hormones to a person under the age of 19.
“The plaintiffs have not presented any authority that supports the existence of a constitutional right to ‘treat (one’s) children with transitioning medications subject to medically accepted standards,’” said the opinion from U.S. Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. “Nor have they shown that (the law) classifies on the basis of sex or any other protected characteristic.”
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.”
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said the ruling reinforced the state’s authority to “safeguard the physical and psychological wellbeing of minors.”
“Alabama takes this responsibility seriously by forbidding doctors from prescribing minors sex-modification procedures that have permanent and often irreversible effects,” Marshall said. “This is a significant victory for our country, for children, and for common sense.”
Critics of the court’s decision say the ruling leaves families of gender-confused children scrambling.
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But many European countries have already moved away from using puberty blockers on children struggling with gender dysphoria because there is little evidence of a long-term benefit.
CBN News reported last year that England shut down its only dedicated gender identity clinic specifically for children and young people following reports such treatments are “not safe.”
The study found the “gender identity service” at Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust was rushing children into taking risky drugs and undergoing irreversible surgeries in the name of gender dysphoria, often bypassing treatment of mental health issues.
The report stated, “brain maturation may be temporarily or permanently disrupted by puberty blockers, which could have a significant impact on the ability to make complex risk-laden decisions, as well as possible longer-term neuropsychological consequences.”
Meanwhile, Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare updated its treatment guidelines for children exhibiting symptoms of gender dysphoria, admitting “care has been characterized by both deficiencies in accessibility and a lack of knowledge about the results of the care.”
And a growing number of states in the U.S. are trying to halt gender-alterations of young children. So far, at least 20 states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-experiments on minors. Legal battles are underway in many of those cases.
Alabama’s 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.
In North Carolina, Republican lawmakers voted to override the governor’s veto of a bill restricting cross-sex hormones, puberty blockers, and experimental surgeries on young people.
And as CBN News reported, a federal court of appeals ruled in favor of Tennessee’s law protecting minors from irreversible “gender transition” surgeries and hormones.
Alabama’s 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.
The judge has scheduled a trial for April 2 on whether to permanently block the law.