Alabama Lawmakers Pass Ban On Gender-Affirming Healthcare For Children

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Topline

The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that would criminalize prescribing gender-affirming medical care to children—legislation that, if signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey (R), would make Alabama the third Republican-controlled state to deny some types of medical treatment to transgender youth.

Key Facts

The bill, which the state House passed 66-28 on Thursday after the Senate passed it in February, would make it a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison if doctors perform gender-affirming medical procedures for minors or prescribe medication like puberty blockers or hormones.

The bill would also ban teachers, counselors, nurses and principals from withholding from parents if a child expresses that they are transgender.

Ivey has yet to indicate whether she will sign the bill into law, according to the Associated Press, and her office did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment.

State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Ala.), who sponsored the House version of the bill, claimed Thursday that children’s “brains are not developed to make the decisions long term about what these medications and surgeries do to their body,” according to the AP.

What To Watch For

The American Civil Liberties Union has already pledged to challenge the bill if it is signed into law, alongside defense and education fund Lambda Legal. “Shame on the cruel, heartless, and power-hungry state legislators that want to take away life-saving medical care from transgender youth in Alabama,” said Lambda senior attorney Carl Charles.

Chief Critic

“This is wrong,” state Rep. Neil Rafferty (D-Ala.) said Thursday, according to the AP. “Y’all sit there and campaign on family being the foundation of our nation … but what this bill is doing is totally undermining that. It’s totally undermining family rights, health rights and access to health care.”

Key Background

If Ivey signs the bill into law, Alabama would join Arkansas and Arizona as the third state to ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth, part of a wave of state-level attempts to limit treatments for transgender children. Several medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics say these restrictions on medical care are not based in science and can be damaging, and note treatments like hormone therapy are evidence-based. In February, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) attempted to deem granting gender-affirming care to transgender children “child abuse,” following a similar legal interpretation by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), but the ACLU argued this opinion is not legally binding as it is up to Texas’ courts to interpret the law. Last month, a Texas court blocked an investigation by the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services into two parents who allegedly sought gender-affirming treatment for their transgender child.

Tangent

In a separate 26-5 vote Thursday, the Alabama state Senate passed legislation that would require children to only use multi-person bathrooms that align with the gender on their birth certificate, regardless of their gender identity. Before approving the bill, the Senate amended it to include language that bans discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in K-12 classrooms, a more extensive version of a new Florida law critics have labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which only bans those discussions until third grade.