May 9, 2022 — Alabama became the first state to make it illegal for doctors to provide gender-affirming medical care to transgender people under the age of 19, The Associated Press reported.
The Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act took effect Sunday and makes it a crime to treat transgender youths with puberty blockers and hormones or to perform gender-affirming medical procedures on them. Convictions could be punished by 10 years in prison.
The new law also requires teachers and other school officials to inform a child’s parents if the child discloses they think they’re transgender, The Associated Press reported.
Arkansas passed a similar law last year but a judge issued a restraining order that blocked enforcement before it went into effect.
Four parents of transgender children filed a federal lawsuit to block enforcement of the Alabama law. The U.S. Department of Justice joined the suit, saying the law is unconstitutional. A federal judge heard arguments last week but has not ruled yet, The Associated Press said.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall says the state will continue to defend the law in court.
“The science and common sense are on Alabama’s side. We will win this fight to protect our children,” he said, according to The Associated Press.
A doctor who runs an Alabama clinic that treats transgender children said the new law is a threat to their well-being.
“They always existed, but they often did not have the feeling of empowerment to come out, or come out to their physicians,” Hussein Abdul-Latif, MD, told The Associated Press. “And now that they are, we’re hitting them back with legal action.”
Morissa Ladinsky, MD, who practices with Abdul-Latif, said the new law is creating a crisis for doctors like her.
“This is the first time ever that I can remember, at least for pediatricians, that we are literally forced to choose between the Hippocratic Oath we took to ‘do no harm’ and never abandon our patients versus the facing of a potential felony conviction,” she said.
The legislation says the law is needed because “minors, and often their parents, are unable to comprehend and fully appreciate the risk and life implications, including permanent sterility, that result from the use of puberty blockers. cross-sex hormones, and surgical procedures.”