Federal Judge Strikes Down Arkansas Law Banning 'Gender-Affirming' Care for Minors as Unconstitutional

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

On Tuesday afternoon U.S. District Judge Jay Moody struck down against a 2021 Arkansas law banning chemical castration and sex-change surgeries for minors as unconstitutional. The law, which was passed over then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto, also made it illegal to refer patients to other states for such care.

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Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin said in a statement he planned to appeal Moody’s ruling to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which last year upheld the judge’s temporary order against the law. Griffin said he was disappointed in the ruling, calling the health care “experimentation,” an argument the judge’s ruling said was refuted by decades of clinical experience and scientific research.

As Bonchie covered in 2021, Hutchinson ridiculously described the bill as “government overreach” when he vetoed it.

“This is a government overreach. You are starting to let lawmakers interfere with healthcare and set a standard for legislation overriding healthcare,” Hutchinson said in a Monday news conference. “The state should not presume to jump into every ethical health decision.”

Hutchinson then made the mistake of appearing on Tucker Carlson Tonight, and Tucker dismantled his opposition.

Oh, you mean how abortions are banned for underage children in Arkansas? Or how you can’t just shoot up your ten your old with botox? The idea that the government doesn’t already protect children by stopping certain “healthcare” treatments is simply false. Why would the same principle not apply to something as serious as attempting to “transition” a 12-year-old?

This is why Republicans lose. When the GOP thinks they can just float above the fray, the culture simply passes right underneath them, and things don’t just magically move more towards sanity. But Hutchinson got plaudits from the ACLU and the transgender lobby so I guess that’s something.

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Another laughable part of Hutchinson’s logic tree is the argument that damage from “reassignment surgery” is somehow different than damage from hormone “therapy.”

Hutchinson, who’s now running for President, then went on Meet The Press to bash the bill’s supporters, saying that his veto was about compassion and that the government should restrain itself from protecting children.

It did not protect the youth. It interfered with the government, getting into the lives of transgender youth, as well as their parents and the decisions that doctors make. And to me, it’s about compassion. But it is also about making, having the laws make sense in a limited role of government.

And that’s the case that I made in the Washington Post column that as Republicans, we need to get back and ask the question: ‘Is this the appropriate role of government? Are we restraining ourselves?’

Judge Moody, sadly, agreed with Hutchinson’s “conservative” position, ruling that the law violated the due process and equal protection rights of transgender youth and families and also violated the First Amendment rights of medical providers. Moody wrote:

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“Rather than protecting children or safeguarding medical ethics, the evidence showed that the prohibited medical care improves the mental health and well-being of patients and that, by prohibiting it, the state undermined the interests it claims to be advancing.”

It will be interesting to see if similar reasoning is applied to lawsuits challenging vaccine mandates and challenging California laws that prevent physicians from giving full medical information about vaccines and COVID risk to their patients.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders spoke out after the ruling was handed down, tweeting:

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. Only in the far-Left’s woke vision of America is it not appropriate to protect children. We will fight this and the Attorney General plans to appeal Judge Moody’s decision to the Eighth Circuit.

In March 2023 Sanders signed legislation that would allow people who received “gender-affirming care” when they were underage to file a malpractice lawsuit for up to 15 years after they turn 18, a much greater time period than the current two-year statute of limitations under Arkansas law. Radical lefties claim that law would effectively ban those treatments because it would be more difficult for physicians providing such “care” to obtain malpractice insurance.

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While 19 states currently have laws either prohibiting or limiting “trans-ing” of children, Tuesday’s ruling only affects the Arkansas law.

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