Appeals Court Allows Alabama To Protect Children

Aug 22, 2023

MONTGOMERY, AL – The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Alabama can fully enforce its 2022 law banning harmful puberty blockers, hormone treatments, and mutilating surgeries for children. In May 2022, a district court had temporarily blocked the state from enforcing portions of the law pertaining to puberty blockers and hormones. However, a unanimous three-judge panel reversed that decision allowing the law to take immediate and full effect.

Alabama’s “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act”, one of the most protective laws of its type in the nation, makes providing any of these procedures to minors a felony. The Appeals Court ruling only vacates the district court’s preliminary injunction while the legal challenge continues at the district court level. The district judge has scheduled a trial date for the case set to begin on April 2, 2024 to decide whether to permanently block or keep the law.

Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa wrote in the decision that the lower court “abused its discretion” by determining puberty blockers and hormones were a constitutional right under the Due Process Clause. She noted that the lower court used a “wrong standard of scrutiny” resulting in incorrectly recognizing a right not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

Judge Lagoa wrote, “The district court held that there is a specific right under the Constitution ‘to treat [one’s] children with transitioning medications…’ but did so without performing any analysis of whether that specific right is deeply rooted in our nation’s history and tradition. Instead, the district court grounded its ruling in an unprecedented interpretation of parents’ fundamental right to make decisions concerning the ‘upbringing’ and ‘care, custody, and control’ of one’s children.” 

“That was error,” stated Judge Lagoa. “Neither the record nor any binding authority establishes that the ‘right to treat [one’s] children with transitioning medications…’ is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution.” 

In vacating the district court’s injunction, Judge Lagoa acknowledged that several European countries have discontinued these procedures citing evidence of their harmful effects, such as “loss of fertility and sexual function.” With these risks in mind, Judge Lagoa noted that states have the authority to ban them. 

“…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.” 

In addition to Alabama, the Eleventh Circuit’s jurisdiction also includes Georgia and Florida which have similar laws protecting children that are also under legal challenges. In June 2023, a district court issued an injunction preventing Florida from enforcing its ban on puberty blockers and hormones, while a different court in August 2023 blocked Georgia from banning hormone treatments. This new ruling will likely affect the outcomes in these states as well. 

This ruling follows a succession of decisions in recent months regarding these types of laws. In July, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on two different occasions that the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act” in Tennessee and Kentucky could go into effect. However, in June, a federal judge permanently struck down Arkansas’ SAFE Act. The state’s attorney general has appealed the decision to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

At least 22 states have passed laws protecting children from medical mutilation. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “There is no constitutional right to mutilate children. Puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and mutilating surgeries are harmful and often irreversible, and that is why countries like Sweden, England, and Finland have banned these procedures. The Sixth and Eleventh Circuits have rightly ruled that states are free to protect children from these horrible procedures that have devastated many lives.” 

For more information about state laws protecting against gender ideology, visit Liberty Counsel’s website here

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