Alabama cites Supreme Court ruling on abortion in transgender youth case

The citation came amid an appeal by the Alabama Attorney General seeking to lift a federal court injunction that partially blocked enforcement of a recently enacted state ban on medical procedures for young people whose gender identity is at odds with their birth sex.

The appeal is believed to mark the first time that a state has expressly invoked the Supreme Court’s recent opinion reversing the Roe v. Wade’s 1973 legalization of abortion and applies the same reasoning to a separate issue of other rights.

Echoing high court language in Roe’s reversal, Alabama’s appeal filed Monday argued that the state has the authority to ban puberty-blocking hormones and other therapies. for transgender minors in part because they are not “deeply rooted in our history or our traditions”.

The appeal also claims that such treatments are dangerous and experimental, contrary to the broad consensus among medical and mental health professionals that such gender-affirming care saves lives by reducing the risk of depression and suicide. .

Last Friday’s 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority immediately paved the way for many states to enact measures erasing or restricting a woman’s ability to terminate her own pregnancy.

But civil liberties advocates have also worried that the latest abortion ruling, in a Mississippi case called Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, could invite Republican-controlled legislatures to attack other rights that women conservatives oppose.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, said nothing in the Dobbs decision should “cast doubt on precedents that do not relate to abortion”.

However, Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion, urged the Court to reconsider previous rulings protecting the right to contraception, legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide and invalidating state laws prohibiting same-sex sexual relations.


Alabama’s call to reinstate its law prohibiting parents from providing gender-transitional medical care to their children seemed destined to prompt such reconsideration, LGBTQ rights advocates say.

“This is the first case we know of where a state has invoked Dobbs to attack another fundamental right,” Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in an email to Reuters on Thursday.

Nonetheless, Minter said Alabama’s strategy was “little likely to gain much traction because majority opinion was so clear that its continuation was limited to abortion rights.”

Alito sought to distinguish abortion from other established rights because of its involvement in ending what the Roe case called “potential life”. But many jurists have noted that the Dobbs decision calls into question the constitutional basis of other rights subsequently recognized by the Court.

Enforcement of the Alabama law, passed by a Republican-dominated legislature, was blocked in May, less than a week after it took effect, by a preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Liles Burke , a person appointed by former Republican President Donald Trump.

Burke said superior court decisions have made it clear that parents have the right to direct their children’s medical care if it meets acceptable standards and that transgender people are protected from discrimination under federal law. .

Burke left in place the part of the law prohibiting sex reassignment surgery, which experts say is extremely rare for minors, and other provisions prohibiting school officials from keeping certain identity information secret. parental sexuality.

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