By KIMBERLY CHANDLER
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge will hear arguments Thursday on a challenge to Alabama’s plan to outlaw the use of gender-affirming medications to treat transgender youth.
U.S. District Judge Liles Burke has scheduled a hearing on a request to block the law’s enforcement while it’s challenged in court. The law, which would otherwise take effect on Sunday, makes it a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison for medical providers to give puberty blockers and hormones to people under age 19 to help affirm their gender identity.
Four families with transgender children, two doctors and a member of the clergy filed a lawsuit challenging the law as an unconstitutional violation of equal protection and free speech rights and an intrusion into parental decisions. The U.S. Department of Justice has asked to join the case.
“No other state has ever passed a law like the Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act and for good reason. The Act takes the unprecedented step of taking away the opportunity for parents to obtain well established medical care for their children,” lawyers for plaintiffs wrote in the motion seeking a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order against the law.
The state is asking Burke to allow the law to go into effect.
“If the court enjoins this act, Alabama children face irreversible damage from unproven, sterilizing, and permanently scarring medical interventions pushed by ideological interest groups,” lawyers for the state wrote.