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Eighth Circuit Upholds Preliminary Injunction Against Arkansas Ban On Gender-Affirming Healthcare For Minors – Healthcare



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San Francisco – September 2, 2022
 A three-judge panel of the US Court of
Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction
blocking enforcement of an Arkansas law banning gender-affirming
healthcare for transgender minors. Cooley filed an amicus brief in
the case, Brandt v. Rutledge, on behalf of a group of
bioethicists and in support of the transgender youth and their
families challenging the law. Partner Kathleen Hartnett led the
Cooley team, which also included associates Barrett Anderson,
Katelyn Kang, Elizabeth Reinhardt and Julie Veroff.

In 2021, Arkansas was the first state to enact a ban on
gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth.  The ban
prohibits doctors from providing gender-affirming hormone
treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18 years
old, as well as from referring them to other providers for the
treatment. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed the ban, but
lawmakers overrode the veto and enacted the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arkansas
challenged the law on behalf of four transgender youth and their
families, as well as two doctors who provide gender-affirming
treatments. A lower court enjoined the law in 2021 – a week
before it was set to take effect. 

The Eighth Circuit’s ruling allows that injunction to
continue and transgender minors in Arkansas to continue receiving
vital healthcare. Cooley filed an amicus brief with the Eighth
Circuit on behalf of a group of professors of law, medicine and
public health, arguing that the law is directly at odds with key
tenets of biomedical ethics: respect for autonomy, beneficence and
justice. Additionally, the brief outlines how the medical care
targeted by the ban is not “experimental,” but in fact
safe and effective, contrary to the state of Arkansas’
claims.

In affirming the lower court’s preliminary injunction, the
Eighth Circuit held that “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.” Consistent with Cooley’s amicus brief, the
Eighth Circuit also affirmed the lower court’s conclusion
that “Act 626 is not substantially related to
Arkansas’s interests in protecting children from experimental
medical treatment and regulating medical ethics.”

Trial in the lower court is scheduled for October.

Read the full order

Read the amicus brief of bioethicists

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
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