LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (AP) — A federal judge Tuesday ruled Arkansas’s first-ever ban on gender-based childcare in Arkansas unconstitutional. This was the first ruling overturning such a ban, as a growing number of Republican-led states are enacting similar restrictions.
US District Judge Jay Moody issued an injunction against Arkansas law that would have barred doctors from prescribing sex-affirming hormone treatments, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under the age of 18.
Arkansas Law, the Moody locked temporarily In 2021, doctors would also have been banned from referring patients elsewhere for such treatment.
Republican legislatures in Arkansas issued the ban in 2021, priority a veto by former GOP Governor Asa Hutchinson. Hutchinson, who left office in January, said the law went too far by barring the treatment of children currently receiving such care.
The ruling affects only the Arkansas ban, but may impact the fate of similar bans in other states or discourage attempts to enact them.
At least 19 other states have enacted laws under Arkansas law restricting or prohibiting sex-based child care, and federal judges have temporarily blocked similar prohibitions in Alabama and Indiana. Three states have banned or restricted nursing through ordinances or administrative orders.
Florida’s law goes beyond prohibiting juvenile treatments by also prohibiting the use of state funds for gender-specific care and imposing new restrictions on adults seeking treatment. A federal judge has blocked Florida from enforcing its ban on three children who have challenged the law.
Children’s hospitals across the country have faced it harassment and threats Violence for providing that care.
The state has argued that the ban is within its jurisdiction to regulate the medical profession. People who oppose such treatments for children argue they are too young to make such decisions about their future. Major medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, oppose the bans, and experts say treatments are safe when done properly.
The state is likely to appeal Moody’s decision to the US Eighth Circuit Circuit, which last year upheld the judge’s injunction to block the law.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Hutchinson’s successor, signed legislation in March that aims to effectively restore the ban in Arkansas by making it easier to sue providers of gender-affirming childcare. This law will not come into force until later this summer.
A trial lasting about two weeks before Moody included testimonies from one of the transgender youth Challenge of the state ban. The teenager testified in October that the hormone therapy he received changed his life and that the ban would force him to leave the state.