LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (LifeSiteNews) — A federal judge on Tuesday permanently struck down an Arkansas law banning destructive transgender surgeries and drugs for children and teens. The state’s Republican attorney general has vowed to appeal the ruling.
U.S. District Judge Jay Moody, an Obama-appointee, handed down the decision in an 80-page ruling permanently blocking enforcement of Arkansas’ Act 626, also known as the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act. Moody had previously issued a temporary injunction against the measure shortly after the state legislature passed it in 2021, overriding the veto of liberal Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The first such law in the nation (19 others have followed it in the intervening years), the SAFE Act would make it illegal for doctors to prescribe dangerous puberty-blockers, sterilizing cross-sex hormones, or mutilating transgender surgeries for young people under the age of 18. The law would also ban doctors from referring patients to other clinics to receive the procedures.
In his Tuesday ruling, Moody argued that the measure violated the constitutional due process and equal protection rights of children who are confused about their sex and their families and cut against the First Amendment rights of the doctors who carry out the mutilations. He also claimed that evidence supports the chemical and surgical transgender disfigurement of young people.
Moody wrote that the type of so-called “care” prohibited under the SAFE Act “improves the mental health and well-being of patients and that, by prohibiting it, the state undermined the interests it claims to be advancing.”
However, as LifeSiteNews has noted, in addition to the fact that so-called “affirmation” asserts a false reality that one’s sex can be changed, long-term studies do not support the claim that destructive “gender-affirming” drugs and surgeries benefit the mental health of their recipients, something advocates frequently allege without evidence. Moreover, research indicates that some 80 percent of children suffering from gender dysphoria will naturally outgrow it by late adolescence.
Moreover, the U.K. and a number of European nations have urged caution in pursuing irreversible gender procedures for children. Official bodies in Finland, France, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have all tapped the brakes on the total promotion of “gender affirmation” for minors in recent years.
In a Tuesday statement, Arkansas Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin vowed to appeal Moody’s ruling, calling transgender surgeries and drugs “dangerous medical experimentation.”
“I am disappointed in the decision that prevents our state from protecting our children against dangerous medical experimentation under the moniker of ‘gender transition,’” Griffin wrote.
“I will continue fighting as long as it takes to stop providers from sterilizing children,” he said, announcing plans to “appeal Judge Moody’s decision to the Eighth Circuit.”
In his #SAFEAct ruling, Judge Moody misses what is widely known: There is no scientific evidence that any child will benefit from these procedures, while the consequences are harmful and often permanent. We will appeal to the Eighth Circuit. https://t.co/ecEvqp3d0v #arpx #arnews pic.twitter.com/KFhSYsOiXE
— Attorney General Tim Griffin (@AGTimGriffin) June 20, 2023
Griffin was among 20 Republican attorneys general who last month highlighted the experimental nature of transgender drugs and surgeries for kids in an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, LifeSiteNews previously reported.
According to the attorneys general, previous court decisions in favor of challenges brought by LGBT activists against regulations on transgender interventions “wrongly assume that the science is settled and fully supports the routine use of puberty blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries to treat gender dysphoria.”
“[A]ny claim that chemical or surgical intervention to treat gender dysphoria is ‘evidence-based’ or settled within the medical community is simply wrong,” they wrote. “For these interventions, the evidence is lacking.”
It remains to be seen how Judge Moody’s Tuesday ruling will affect laws on the books in the other 19 states with legislation banning experimental transgender procedures. Judges have also temporarily enjoined similar measures in Alabama and Indiana, the AP noted.
It’s also unclear how the ruling may affect another law in Arkansas intended to work around the earlier temporary block on the SAFE Act.
In March, current Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a new law to essentially reinstate the SAFE Act by facilitating lawsuits against physicians who mutilate healthy children in the name of “gender-affirming care.” The measure is set to take effect this summer.
“This is not ‘care’ – it’s activists pushing a political agenda at the expense of our kids and subjecting them to permanent and harmful procedures,” Gov. Sanders said in a Tuesday tweet.
“Only in the far-Left’s woke vision of America is it not appropriate to protect children,” she said.