Missouri Judge Temporarily Blocks New Restrictions on Transgender Procedures

Janice Hisle
By Janice Hisle
May 1, 2023Courts
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Missouri Judge Temporarily Blocks New Restrictions on Transgender Procedures
Missouri Attorney General Bailey (2R) speaks at a news conference with Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) on Feb. 24, 2023. (Courtesy of the Missouri Governor's Office)

A Missouri judge has ordered a two-week hold on the nation’s first attempt to regulate medical gender-transitioning of adults and minors via a consumer-protection rule.

Circuit Judge Ellen Ribaudo’s May 1  ruling comes amid a national and international debate over the safety and effectiveness of transgender medical procedures in general.

Disagreements usually have centered on the use of these procedures for youths. But the Missouri rule also focuses on concerns about the well-being of adults.

LGBT civil-rights activists, who petitioned to stop the proposed rule, say it’s unconstitutional and would cut off transgender people from the “health care” they want and deserve.

But Attorney General Andrew Bailey, who authored the rule, argues that it would ensure “adequate health care” for patients embarking on a risky, life-altering course of cross-sex hormones and body-altering surgeries.

If enacted, the rule would require doctors to provide specific warnings and ensure that prospective “transitioners” receive 18 months of mental health therapy.

Arguing ‘the Science’

Both sides argue that scientific findings support their contentions.

But, in her ruling, Ribaudo said she needed more information before deciding which side is correct.

She will consider whether to take further action against the rule, following a May 11 hearing.

On behalf of medical providers and transgender people who oppose the rule, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri (ACLU-MO) issued a statement applauding the judge for temporarily blocking the enactment of “extreme and unprecedented restrictions … for trans people of all ages.”

One of the plaintiffs, Southampton Community Healthcare, says the rule imposes “illogical barriers to necessary care,” according to the ACLU-MO statement.

Under the rule, Southhampton’s medical professionals also would be required “to grapple with how to provide ethical medical care to our transgender patients,” the statement said.

AG Is ‘Confident’

Madeline Sieren, a spokeswoman for Bailey, told The Epoch Times via email: “We remain confident in our position because the Court even acknowledged that it deferred its consideration of the science until a later date.”

“Our six pages of endnotes speak for themselves: these procedures are experimental. We will continue to fight for all patients to have access to adequate health care,” Sieren wrote.

However, Ribaudo noted that Bailey’s proposed rule represented a “novel use” of his power to take emergency rule-making actions.

Such a use “has never previously been subjected to judicial scrutiny and may impermissibly invade a function reserved to the legislature.”

Ribaudo also wrote that opponents of the rule have shown that they are “likely” to prove they will prevail.

Data Debated

Bailey’s rule states that there’s a lack of data showing that these medical procedures are safe and effective. He said the situation constitutes an emergency because transgender medical procedures that “pose very serious side effects” have become increasingly popular.

These interventions are undertaken “often without any talk therapy at all,” Bailey wrote.

High percentages of transgender-identifying people suffer from autism, a history of sexual abuse, and other conditions that would benefit from therapy, he noted in his rule.

Bailey’s rule asserts that such underlying disorders should be addressed before patients can medically transition.

But the ACLU-MO, in a previous statement, said the use of hormones and surgeries for transgender people “is also supported by overwhelming scientific evidence, decades of clinical experience, and the medical consensus of major medical organizations in the United States.”

The ACLU-MO’s Gillian Wilcox accused Bailey of a “dangerous and unlawful twisting of Missouri’s consumer protection laws.”

State, National Context

The legal battle over the proposed rule comes as conservative lawmakers nationwide, including those in Missouri, have either enacted or proposed banning gender-based medical procedures for minors.

A few liberal states, including Colorado, have enacted laws upholding minors’ rights to these procedures.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, has urged lawmakers to pass transgender medical and sports-participation bills before the legislative session ends May 12.

If they fail to act by that deadline, Parson has threatened to force lawmakers into a special session to get the job done.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

From The Epoch Times

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