Arkansas’ controversial ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender children was temporarily blocked by a federal judge Wednesday, according to the ACLU and media outlets, amid a nationwide surge in state-level restrictions on trans people.
A federal judge in Arkansas issued a preliminary injunction, meaning the law — which was set to take effect in one week — is on pause while a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union works its way through the courts, the ACLU confirmed to Forbes (the decision was also reported by the Associated Press).
The injunction was announced in a bench decision Wednesday, meaning a written copy of the ruling and the judge’s rationale is not currently available.
Forbes has reached out to the Arkansas attorney general’s office for comment.
Known as the Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act, the law prohibits doctors from offering transition-related surgery, hormone therapy or puberty-blocking drugs to any transgender people under the age of 18. The bill’s sponsors argue it’s rooted in a desire to protect children, but LGBTQ advocates, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other opponents say gender-affirming healthcare is often medically necessary, and trans children face a risk of depression if they’re cut off from it. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state two months ago, arguing the law discriminates on the basis of sex, impedes parents’ right to follow medical advice for their children and restricts doctors’ First Amendment rights by banning them from referring minors to providers who offer gender transition treatments.
The law drew controversy from some local Republicans. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) initially vetoed the bill in April, calling it a “vast government overreach,” but the Republican-controlled state legislature voted to override his veto one day later.
This is a developing story; it will be updated.