The state of Arkansas cannot protect children from harmful and experimental “sex-change” procedures, a federal court ruled on Thursday.
Last year, the Arkansas state legislature passed the Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act (SAFE Act). After Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed the bill, the legislature then overrode his veto and passed the bill by a 71 to 24 vote in the House and a 25 to 8 vote in the Senate.
The act states: “A physician or other healthcare professional shall not provide gender transition procedures to any individual under eighteen years of age.”
Following enactment of the SAFE Act, Arkansas became the first state in the Union to ban so-called “sex-change” procedures from being performed on minors. However, the bill has yet to take effect since it has been blocked from taking effect by federal courts.
On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the Eight Circuit upheld a district court’s order that preliminarily enjoined the act from taking effect.
The Daily Citizen reached out to Arkansas Attorney General (AG) Leslie Rutledge, inquiring whether she will appeal the ruling in the case.
In a statement to the Daily Citizen, the AG’s Communications Director Amanda Priest said, “The Attorney General is extremely disappointed in today’s dangerously wrong decision by the three-judge panel and plans to seek review by the full Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.”
Following that action, it will be up to the full slate of judges on the Eighth Circuit whether to grant a review of the panel’s decision.
It is very telling that the panel’s opinion used the typical buzzwords frequently used by transgender activists, like the phrase “born as a male” or “sex at birth.”
“A minor born as a male may be prescribed testosterone… but a minor born as a female is not permitted to seek the same medical treatment,” the panel wrote.
“Because the minor’s sex at birth determines whether or not the minor can receive certain types of medical care under the law, Act 626 discriminates on the basis of sex,” Judge Jane Kelly wrote for the panel.
But the law does not discriminate “on the basis of sex,” as the panel asserts. The law distinguishes between sex and gender identity.
The law prohibits certain “sex-change” procedures from being performed on both sexes. For example, females cannot be prescribed testosterone. On the other hand, men cannot be prescribed estrogen.
So, the three-judge panel is simply wrong in their analysis of the law.
The ruling from the Eighth Circuit comes as a bit of a surprise, given that the court is viewed as one of the most conservative federal appeals courts in the country.
The three judges sitting on the panel were appointed by three different presidents, including former President George H.W. Bush, former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden.
Arkansas Family Council, a Focus-allied Family Policy Council, released a statement condemning the ruling.
“This is a very bad ruling,” the organization said. “Children should not be subjected to sex-reassignment procedures. Researchers do not know the long-term effects puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones can have on kids. The panel’s decision today fails to protect the children of Arkansas.
“The SAFE Act is commonsense legislation that protects children. It received overwhelming support from the Arkansas Legislature. Most voters in Arkansas support the law as well … Arkansans understand this is a good law. Our federal courts should as well.
“Arkansas’ SAFE Act protects children. We believe federal courts ultimately will recognize that fact and uphold this good law as constitutional.”
We will keep you apprised of further developments in this case.
The case is Dylan Brandt v. Leslie Rutledge.
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