Two Alabama families and Alabama medical providers Dr. Morissa Ladinsky and Dr. Hussein Abdul-Latif have filed suit in federal court following Governor Kay Ivey’s signing of SB 184. The plaintiffs are represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Human Rights Campaign with King & Spalding LLP and Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC
Today civil and LGBTQ legal rights advocates SPLC, GLAD, NCLR, and HRC, joined by co-counsel King & Spalding LLP and Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC, announced they have filed a legal challenge in federal district court against Alabama SB 184, which prohibits parents from obtaining essential medical care for their transgender children by imposing criminal penalties on them and their children’s doctors for providing that care.
The bill, which was signed by Governor Kay Ivey Friday, punishes parents for making important decisions about their children’s healthcare and doctors for providing – or even suggesting – well-established medically necessary care. The punishment can include up to 10 years in prison.
The doctors challenging SB 184 in Ladinsky v. Ivey are Dr. Morissa J. Ladinsky and Dr. Hussein D. Abdul-Latif, both providers at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama and members of the medical staff at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital and the teaching staff at UAB School of Medicine. Dr. Ladinsky and Dr. Abdul-Latif have long-term expertise in caring for transgender children of Alabama families. Under SB 184, they both face criminal penalties including up to 10 years in prison if they continue to provide that support to their patients.
“By signing SB 184 Governor Ivey has told kind, loving, and loyal Alabama families that they cannot stay here without denying their children the basic medical care they need,” said Dr. Morissa Ladinsky. “She has undermined the health and well-being of Alabama children and put doctors like me in the horrifying position of choosing between ignoring the medical needs of our patients or risking being sent to prison.”
The Alabama family plaintiffs are proceeding anonymously to protect their children. They include Robert Roe, and his 13-year-old transgender daughter Mary, of Jefferson County; and Jane Doe and her 17-year-old-transgender son John, of Shelby County. These families have deep ties to Alabama. If SB 184 is allowed to go into effect both families will be forced to choose between leaving the state, breaking the law, or facing devastating consequences to their children’s health.
“Like all parents we want nothing more than for our child to be healthy and happy. We have seen our daughter change from being reclusive and anxious to being an engaged, happy child once we got her the support and care she needs,” said plaintiff Robert Roe, father of 13-year-old Mary, of Jefferson County, Alabama. “This law threatens all of that and takes away our ability to follow the advice of highly qualified medical professionals. I was born and raised in Alabama and came back here with my wife to raise our family. We love this community which has shown us incredible support. But if this law goes into effect we may be forced to leave the state we call home in order to protect our daughter’s life.”
“Governor Ivey has signed an appalling bill authorizing the state of Alabama to reach in and interfere with family relationships,” said Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director. “Parents want what’s best for their kids. SB 184 is an extremely dangerous law that undermines the health of Alabama children and the freedom of Alabama parents. It will not hold up to legal scrutiny.”
“A state cannot criminalize parents and doctors for following medical guidelines and providing needed medical treatments,” states NCLR Senior Staff Attorney and Transgender Youth Project Director Asaf Orr. “This is an unconstitutional bill that will cause enormous stress and harm to families. A federal court immediately stopped enforcement of a similar law in Arkansas last year, and we aim to obtain the same result here.”
“Sadly, Governor Ivey has sided with a misguided Alabama legislature, who were determined to rush this legislation forward. SB 184 purposefully disregards the well-being of youth who will be directly – and negatively – impacted,” said Scott McCoy, SPLC Interim Deputy Legal Director LGBTQ Rights & Special Litigation. “Allowing this law to diminish and disregard the existence, dignity, and worth of transgender young people in Alabama is not an option.”
“Governor Ivey’s signing SB 184 into law goes directly against the best advice of the medical community and intrudes on the rights of parents and families to make their own medical decisions. In doing so, the state has criminalized critically important care that is often life-saving for transgender youth,” said Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director. “These care providers and families care about nothing more than doing what’s best for their children, yet their state government has vilified them.”
Legislation banning and criminalizing medically necessary healthcare for transgender youth has been opposed by healthcare professionals, including major American medical associations. A similar bill passed in Arkansas in 2021 was blocked in federal court. The Department of Justice sent a letter to all state Attorneys General on March 31 warning that prohibiting access to healthcare because a person is transgender violates federal constitutional and statutory protections.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people. For more information, visit www.splcenter.org
Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation. www.glad.org
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. Since its founding, NCLR has maintained a longstanding commitment to racial and economic justice and the LGBTQ community’s most vulnerable. www.nclrights.org
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community. www.hrc.org