An Arkansas law banning transgender treatments for minors under the age of 18 that was the first of its kind in the nation has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge following a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of four transgender minors and two medical practitioners who perform the types of surgeries that would have been prohibited by the law.
The law had been set to take effect beginning Jul 28.
“To pull this care midstream from these patients, or minors, would cause irreparable harm,” U.S. District Judge Jay Moody said Wednesday upon granting the ACLU preliminary injunction they sought, as The Associated Press reported.
Under the law, which was passed by the state legislature in April despite a veto attempt from Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson, was dubbed the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act” practitioners who provided puberty blockers or gender-transition surgeries to minors could lose their medical licenses.
“This ruling sends a clear message to states across the country that gender affirming care is life-saving care, and we won’t let politicians in Arkansas — or anywhere else — take it away,” the ACLU of Arkansas’ executive director, Holly Dickson, said of the decision.
According to ABC News, Judge Moody said the plaintiffs were likely to succeed with their case.
The state’s high-profile Republican leaders, however, shared a very different perspective.
“Our legislature made the reasonable decision to protect minors from dangerous and life-altering drugs, hormones, and surgeries,” U.S. Senator for Arkansas, Republican Tom Cotton, said in a statement.
“Against the will of Arkansans, liberal activists have now put those children back in harm’s way.”
While puberty blockers and so-called “gender affirming” surgeries are supported by much of the mainstream medial community, such as the American Pediatric Association, others warn that these treatments can themselves cause irreparable harm.
In May, a Swedish hospital that had been at the forefront of the movement promoting such treatments to minors ceased providing cross-hormone blocking drugs to those under the age of 16, citing the potential for “irreversible adverse consequences.”
This “makes it challenging to assess the risk / benefit for the individual patient, and even more challenging for the minors and their guardians to be in a position of an informed stance regarding these treatments,” the hospital said.
In 2020, Finland revised transgender treatment recommendations for minors under the age of 16, prioritizing psychological treatment over pharmaceutical options.
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