Alabama AG cites Supreme Court Dobbs case to ban gender-affirming care : NPR
Jake Crandall/The Montgomery Announcer via AP
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can ban abortion, Alabama seized the ruling arguing that the state should also be able to ban gender-affirming medical treatment for young people transgender.
The case marks one of the first known cases in which a conservative state tried to apply the abortion ruling to other areas, just as LGBTQ advocates and others feared would happen.
Critics have expressed concern that the legal reasoning behind the High Court ruling could lead to a rollback of rulings on issues including same-sex marriage, birth control and parental rights.
State is asking a federal appeals court to lift an injunction and let it enforce an Alabama law that would make it a crime to give puberty blockers or hormones to transgender minors to help them affirm their gender identity.
Alabama seizes language on US history and tradition
In its landmark June 24 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that terminating a pregnancy is not a fundamental constitutional right because abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution and is not “deeply entrenched in the history and tradition of this nation”.
In a brief filed Monday, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office similarly argued that gender transition treatments are not “deeply rooted in our history or traditions,” and therefore the state has the power to ban them. Alabama maintains that such treatments are dangerous and experimental, a view disputed by medical organizations.
Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said this was the first case she was aware of in which a state cited the abortion ruling on another issue, but added: ” It won’t be the last.”
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said in the majority opinion that the abortion decision should not cast “doubt on precedents that do not relate to abortion”. But Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the same legal reasoning should be used to reconsider high court rulings protecting same-sex marriage, same-sex sex and contraceptives.
“It’s no surprise that Alabama and other extremely conservative states are accepting this invitation as forcefully as possible,” Minter said. “Judge Thomas’ deal was a declaration of war against groups already under attack, and we expect the hostility to escalate.”
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s so-called Dobbs decision, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in an interview with NewsNation, did not rule out defending a state law against gay sex if the GOP-controlled legislature were to approve a new one. The precedent had been invalidated by the high court in 2003.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Massachusetts lawmakers are seeking to increase state protections for gender-affirming care, in addition to abortion, in response to the Supreme Court ruling.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall was unavailable for comment Thursday, a spokesperson said.
The state has taken other measures that affect trans children and their families
Jeff Walker, who has a 15-year-old transgender daughter, said this spring he feels Alabama is attacking families like his with legislation targeting drugs for transgender children and dictating their choice of school restrooms. , locker rooms and sports teams. He said the state’s argument in this case is worrisome to everyone.
“I think everyone should be concerned with the wording of this appeal. By that logic, any health care that the state deems inconsistent with its morals or beliefs should be banned,” Walker said.
The Alabama case could become a first test of the judges’ position on the scope of the abortion ruling. The appeals court granted the state’s request for an accelerated schedule for submission of briefs, and a decision could come as soon as this fall.
While Alabama was already appealing the injunction in the transgender drug case, the state quickly incorporated the abortion decision into its case.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the law this spring that criminalizes up to 10 years in prison the distribution of certain drugs to minors to facilitate their gender transition.
A federal judge in May issued a preliminary injunction blocking the measure, siding with parents who said the law violated their children’s rights and their own rights to direct their children’s medical care.
“The interesting thing about Supreme Court decisions is that they tend to have a life of their own,” said Alison Gash, a political science professor at the University of Oregon.
Courts have generally upheld parents’ right to make medical decisions for their children, including in cases where families don’t want to get doctor-recommended cancer treatments, Gash said. She said she expects to see more arguments like Alabama’s arising from the Dobbs decision, and they could have a major effect on the right to make medical decisions.
“Many of us feel like the guardrails have fallen completely, because there is no real predictability about the relevance of Dobbs to a wide range of issues that affect so many different vulnerable communities,” Gash said.