By Brendan Pierson
(Reuters) – A federal judge in Kentucky ruled Friday that the state can enforce its law banning the use of puberty-blocking drugs and hormones for transgender children while it appeals his earlier order blocking the law.
Last month, U.S. District Judge David Hale found that the ban likely violated the U.S. Constitution. However, he said he had to put his order on hold because the federal appeals court hearing the case recently paused a similar order in Tennessee.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, in a statement called Hale’s decision “a win for parents and children.”
The law is being challenged by families of transgender children who say they will be irreparably harmed by losing access to medical treatments.
Hale’s decision “is not the final word, and we remain optimistic that with a full briefing we will achieve a positive result,” American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky legal director Corey Shapiro, one of the lawyers representing the families, said in a statement.
Kentucky and Tennessee are among the 20 states, all with Republican-controlled legislatures, that have passed laws banning use of puberty blockers and hormones as part of gender transition for patients under 18.
Such treatments, known as gender-affirming care, are supported by major U.S. medical associations. Proponents of the bans say they are experimental and endanger children.
The now-reinstated Kentucky and Tennessee laws were both blocked by federal judges on June 28 in response to lawsuits by families of transgender children. The families say the laws discriminate against transgender people and take away parents’ right to make medical decisions for their children.
On July 8, The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from both states, granted Tennessee’s motion for an emergency order reinstating the law while it appeals.
Hale said Friday that despite his “difference of opinion” with the appeals court, he found “no basis” for treating Kentucky’s case differently.
The 6th Circuit said it would consider the two cases together and aim to decide them by Sept. 30.
Federal courts in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida and Indiana have blocked similar bans on transgender healthcare for minors.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)
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