A federal appeals court ruled that Arkansas cannot enforce its law banning transgender hormone treatment for minors, a law virtually identical to one passed by the Alabama Legislature earlier this year and currently making its way through the federal courts.
The Arkansas law, passed in April 2021, prohibited doctors from providing transgender hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the law. U.S. District Judge James Moody subsequently filed an injunction, blocking the law from being enforced.
On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the law, and a trial is scheduled for October before Moody on the law's future.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will ask the full Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the ruling, said spokeswoman Amanda Priest.
She added Rutledge was "extremely disappointed in today's dangerously wrong decision by the three-judge panel."
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall led a 19-state brief in support of Arkansas. His office is slated to defend a similar Alabama law before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in November.
In April, the Alabama Legislature passed the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, which made it a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison to perform surgeries or prescribe any transgender drugs to individuals under the age of 19.
U.S. District Judge Liles Burke put a partial block on the law in May, allowing the ban on surgeries to stay in place but preventing the state from banning medications. Burke also removed any criminal penalties for those who prescribe or provide the medication.
There is a concern that the precedent set by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals could negatively affect the state's appeal in defending the act.
Marshall said in his brief, "If anyone spent just a little bit of time with the scientific literature in this area, they would quickly learn that science is largely unsettled; nearly everyone agrees that far more research is needed; and the currently popular approach to care in the United States is not supported by well-researched evidence-based studies."
"[Y]et the evidence also shows that nearly all children whose gender dysphoria is treated with puberty blockers to 'buy time' will proceed to take cross-sex hormones and seek medical interventions with irreversible, life-long consequences such as infertility, loss of sexual function, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, bone density problems, risk of brain development issues, social harms from delayed puberty, and mental health concerns."
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