Court hears arguments on Alabama trans youth treatment ban

Nov 18, 2022, 3:31 PM | Updated: 4:00 pm

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama asked an appellate court Friday to let the state outlaw the use of puberty blockers and hormones to treat transgender children — a move some parents argued violates their right to make decisions about their children’s health care.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in Alabama’s appeal of a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the first-of-its-kind law that would make it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to give the medications to assist transgender minors in their transition.

The arguments in Alabama come three months after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to keep similar Arkansas law on hold.

The bans have become a flashpoint as Republican-controlled legislatures advanced bills to not only block medical treatment but talso ban transgender children from using school restrooms or playing on sports teams that don’t correspond with their sex at birth.

Jeff Doss, an attorney representing five parents and a pediatrician who challenged the law, urged the court to keep the ban on hold. He said the law is discriminatory and Alabama took the “unprecedented” step of trying to criminalize the accepted standard of care for a medical condition.

“If parental freedom means anything, it means that a parent, not the state, should decide whether their child receives life-saving medical intervention, consistent with the standard of care,” Doss said.

Doss said after court that “it should be chilling for everyone” that the state is trying to tell parents “we know best and we are the ones who are going to make this decision for you parents.”

Edmund LaCour, Alabama’s solicitor general, argued that the state has the authority to regulate medical treatments it deems risky. He disputed arguments that the law discriminated against transgender individuals, because the drugs are still available to everyone, just not “to affect a cosmetic sex change”

“The law does not prohibit any sort of therapy. It doesn’t require that males go by he or that girls wear dresses. All it does is target the risky treatments,” LaCour said.

LaCour at one point asked judges to imagine if children wanted to use skin grafts, a treatment for severe burns, to change their race. Doing so would just be too risky, he argued.

Multiple medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, oppose the ban. The U.S. Justice Department has also opposed the ban as unconstitutional. Fifteen states filed briefs supporting Alabama’s efforts to ban the treatments.

The appellate judges did not indicate when they will rule.

U.S. Circuit Judge Andrew Brasher, who was Alabama’s solicitor general before he was appointed to a federal judgeship, asked both sides if the law amounted to sex discrimination and if the state had other regulation options, short of an outright ban, if it was concerned about the possible overuse of the medications.

Arkansas was the first state to enact such a treatment ban. A federal judge last year blocked the Arkansas law from going into effect, and the appellate court upheld the decision. A trial began last month in the lawsuit seeking to permanently strike down the ban.

The Alabama law, dubbed the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, went further in putting criminal penalties of people who provide the medications.

U.S. District Judge Liles Burke in May issued a preliminary injunction to stop Alabama from enforcing the medication ban. Burke did not block a portion of the law banning sex-altering surgeries for minors, which doctors testified are not performed in Alabama.

He also left in place a provision that requires counselors and other school officials to tell parents if a minor discloses that they think they are transgender.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey at the time called Burke’s ruling blocking the medication ban a “temporary legal roadblock.”

The trial in the ongoing litigation is expected next year, attorneys said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Lead water pipes pulled from underneath the street are seen in Newark, N.J., Oct. 21, 2021. (AP Pho...

Associated Press

Biden to require cities to replace harmful lead pipes within 10 years

The Biden administration has previously said it wants all of the nation's roughly 9 million lead pipes to be removed, and rapidly.

1 day ago

Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2...

Associated Press

Meta shuts down thousands of fake Facebook accounts that were primed to polarize voters ahead of 2024

Meta said it removed 4789 Facebook accounts in China that targeted the United States before next year’s election.

1 day ago

A demonstrator in Tel Aviv holds a sign calling for a cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel war on Nov. 21...

Associated Press

Hamas releases a third group of hostages as part of truce, and says it will seek to extend the deal

The fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was back on track Sunday as the first American was released under a four-day truce.

6 days ago

Men look over the site of a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, ...

Associated Press

New AP analysis of last month’s deadly Gaza hospital explosion rules out widely cited video

The Associated Press is publishing an updated visual analysis of the deadly Oct. 17 explosion at Gaza's Al-Ahli Hospital.

9 days ago

Peggy Simpson holds a photograph of law enforcement carrying Lee Harvey Oswald's gun through a hall...

Associated Press

JFK assassination remembered 60 years later by surviving witnesses to history, including AP reporter

Peggy Simpson is among the last surviving witnesses who are sharing their stories as the nation marks the 60th anniversary.

9 days ago

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas; deal includes release of 50 hostages

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a cease-fire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war.

10 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Desert Institute for Spine Care (DISC) wants to help Valley residents address back, neck issues through awake spine surgery

As the weather begins to change, those with back issues can no longer rely on the dry heat to aid their backs. That's where DISC comes in.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.

Court hears arguments on Alabama trans youth treatment ban