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Civil, LGBTQ rights groups file suit against bill banning transgender medical care

Doctors face criminal penalties including up to 10 years in prison if they continue to provide medical treatment to transgender children.

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Civil and LGBTQ legal rights advocates announced they have filed a legal challenge in federal district court against Alabama SB184, which criminalizes the medical treatment of minors experiencing gender dysphoria.

The doctors challenging SB184 in Ladinsky v. Ivey are Dr. Morissa J. Ladinsky and Dr. Hussein D. Abdul-Latif, both providers at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama and members of the medical staff at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital and the teaching staff at UAB School of Medicine. Under SB184, they both face criminal penalties including up to 10 years in prison if they continue to provide medical treatment to transgender children.

“By signing SB184 Governor Ivey has told kind, loving, and loyal Alabama families that they cannot stay here without denying their children the basic medical care they need,” Ladinsky said. “She has undermined the health and well-being of Alabama children and put doctors like me in the horrifying position of choosing between ignoring the medical needs of our patients or risking being sent to prison.”

The Alabama family plaintiffs are proceeding anonymously to protect their children, the plaintiffs said in a statement Monday. They include Robert Roe, and his 13-year-old transgender daughter Mary, of Jefferson County; and Jane Doe and her 17-year-old-transgender son John, of Shelby County. 

“These families have deep ties to Alabama,” the statement said. “If SB184 is allowed to go into effect both families will be forced to choose between leaving the state, breaking the law, or facing devastating consequences to their children’s health.”

“Like all parents we want nothing more than for our child to be healthy and happy. We have seen our daughter change from being reclusive and anxious to being an engaged, happy child once we got her the support and care she needs,” Robert Roe said. “This law threatens all of that and takes away our ability to follow the advice of highly qualified medical professionals. I was born and raised in Alabama and came back here with my wife to raise our family. We love this community which has shown us incredible support. But if this law goes into effect we may be forced to leave the state we call home in order to protect our daughter’s life.”

“Gov. Ivey has signed an appalling bill authorizing the state of Alabama to reach in and interfere with family relationships,” said Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director. “Parents want what’s best for their kids. SB184 is an extremely dangerous law that undermines the health of Alabama children and the freedom of Alabama parents. It will not hold up to legal scrutiny.”

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“Governor Ivey’s signing SB184 into law goes directly against the best advice of the medical community and intrudes on the rights of parents and families to make their own medical decisions. In doing so, the state has criminalized critically important care that is often life-saving for transgender youth,” said Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign legal director. “These care providers and families care about nothing more than doing what’s best for their children, yet their state government has vilified them.”

Legislation banning and criminalizing healthcare for transgender youth has been opposed by healthcare professionals, including major American medical associations. A similar bill passed in Arkansas in 2021 was blocked in federal court. The Department of Justice sent a letter to all state Attorneys General on March 31 warning that prohibiting access to healthcare because a person is transgender violates federal constitutional and statutory protections.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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