Alabama Attorney General wants to enforce ban on gender-affirming medication

The Alabama Attorney General's Office on Thursday asked a federal court to allow the state to enforce a ban on gender-affirming medication for minors while the families of transgender youth file an appeal.

Seeking a stay of a preliminary injunction against the law, attorneys with the state argued they are likely to succeed on the merits of the case, and the plaintiffs do not dispute it.

"At any time since this court's injunction was issued, the court could have issued a stay," they wrote. "That power did not evaporate when the 11th Circuit vacated this court's injunction in a binding opinion. And the court should exercise the power to stay now because the defendants are likely to succeed and satisfy the other stay factors."

(READ MORE: Some providers are dropping gender-affirming care for kids even in cases where it's legal)

A message seeking comment was left with GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, who are among the lawyers representing the plaintiffs.

Gov. Kay Ivey in 2022 signed a law making it a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison for a physician to prescribe puberty blockers or hormones to a transgender youth. The families of transgender youth sued, saying the medications were critical to their children's well-being.

U.S. District Court Judge Liles C. Burke blocked the medication ban in May 2022, writing that the medications had wide support of the medical community.

The state then appealed to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Last month, U.S. Circuit Court Judge Barbara Lagoa, writing for a three-judge panel, overturned Burke's ruling, finding there was no "fundamental right" to access the medication.

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The plaintiffs in the case have since filed for an appeal. In an en banc, the entire 11th Circuit would hear the case. Plaintiffs said the lower court stay would remain in effect while the en banc petition continues.

In the Thursday filing, the state's attorneys argued Alabama faced "sovereignty harm," or harm from not being able to enforce its laws, if prevented from enforcing the ban on transgender medication. The plaintiffs, they argued, would not face harm if the court allowed the ban to be enforced.

The attorneys argued minors would be helped, not harmed, by the stay and that patients can be tapered off from care and access "safe, proven therapies for gender dysphoria," though the brief does not explain what those are.