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Doctors and Families to Challenge Alabama’s Criminalization of Healthcare for Transgender Children and Adolescents

The Southern Poverty Law Center,  the National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, and Human Rights Campaign will bring suit on behalf of two medical providers and multiple families who would be directly harmed by the law

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), joined by co-counsel King & Spalding LLP and Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC, today announced they will bring a legal challenge to Alabama SB 184, which criminalizes the provision of best-practice medical care for transgender minors, should Governor Ivey sign it into law. The bill, which was passed by the Alabama legislature earlier today, 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 civil and LGBTQ legal rights organizations will bring suit on behalf of two medical providers and multiple families who will be directly harmed by the law. 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 passage of this bill means that families who love Alabama and call it home will have to move away to ensure their children receive the basic medical care they need,” said Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, associate professor of pediatrics at UAB Pediatrics Division of Academic General Pediatrics. “The parents demonized by SB 184 are kind, loving, and supportive. They come from every corner of Alabama. This bill puts doctors like me in the untenable position of choosing between ignoring the medical needs of our patients or risking being sent to prison.”

“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 a blatantly unconstitutional bill that will cause enormous stress and harm to Alabama families and cost Alabama taxpayers millions of dollars to defend. A federal court immediately stopped enforcement of a similar law in Arkansas last year, and we expect the same result here.”

“It’s appalling to see Alabama so grossly interfering with family relationships,” said Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director. “Parents want what’s best for their kids. SB 184 is dangerous government overreach and will not stand up before a legal challenge.”

“This dangerous bill undermines Alabama parents’ ability to make decisions about what’s best for their kids,” said Scott McCoy, SPLC Interim Deputy Legal Director LGBTQ Rights & Special Litigation. “It is indefensible for the state to reach in and interfere so completely with family medical decision-making and it will not hold up to constitutional scrutiny.”

“Anti-equality legislators in the state capital have recklessly passed a bill that 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,” said Human Rights Campaign Alabama State Director Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey. “SB 184 does not make our state safer; it does the exact opposite, aligning Alabama with states like Texas and Florida in attacking transgender kids. Governor Ivey should veto this legislation immediately. ”

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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. 

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. 

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. 

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.