A federal judge in Alabama issued a preliminary injunction Friday blocking most provisions of a controversial new state law criminalizing gender-affirming health care for minors.
The court ruled that the ban on measures such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers appears to be discriminatory and violates the constitutional rights of both parents and children.
The law making gender-affirming health care a felony went into effect in Alabama on Monday.
“Parent Plaintiffs have a fundamental right to direct the medical care of their children,” said the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Liles C. Burke of the Middle District of Alabama, Northern Division. “This right includes the more specific right to treat their children with transitioning medications subject to medically accepted standards. The Act infringes on that right.”
Citing legal precedents, Burke, who was appointed by Donald Trump, noted that “a parent’s right to ‘make decisions concerning the care, custody and control of their children’ is one of the ‘oldest of fundamental liberty interests’ recognized by the Supreme Court.”
Arguments by the state fell flat. Defendants, for example, produced no “credible evidence to show that transitional medications are ‘experimental,’” as claimed, Burke noted. The state’s justifications for the law are “hypothesized, not exceedingly persuasive,” the judge added.
Burke issued the injunction after concluding that the “imminent threat of harm to Parent Plaintiffs and Minor Plaintiffs — i.e., severe physical and/or psychological harm” while the case is being argued “outweighs the harm the State will suffer from the injunction.”
The judge did allow several other provisions of the law to remain in place, including a ban on gender-affirming surgeries for minors.
Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the groups that sued Alabama over the law, tweeted Friday that he was “so relieved and thrilled by this decision in our case,” adding: “This is a powerful opinion.”
He told the Los Angeles Blade the ruling was a major “victory for compassion and common sense and a much needed antidote to the tidal wave of hostile legislation targeting these youth. Thanks to this decision, kids in Alabama can now continue to receive this lifesaving care, and their doctors cannot be prosecuted simply for doing their jobs,” Minter added.
Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, a pediatrician who founded a Birmingham medical team that treats children with gender dysphoria, told The Associated Press the judge’s decision is a “huge relief for transgender children and their families.”
The court’s decision “recognizes that this is well established care that has been endorsed by 22 major medical associations. This decision will ensure transgender children in Alabama, and beyond, can continue to receive this evidence-based life-saving care,” she added.