A federal judge blocked key parts of a new Indiana law which would have prevented minors from legally accessing life-altering gender treatments such as puberty blockers and hormones.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed SB 480 in early April, which was scheduled to take effect July 1. Bill sponsor Rep. Joanna King, R-District 49, said the ban would “protect our children from irreversible, harmful, life-altering procedures.”
However, hours after the bill was signed, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the law, arguing it violated the Equal Protection Clause in the U.S. Constitution.
Friday, Judge James Hanlon ruled to block parts of the law, including the ban on puberty blockers and hormones, but not the ban on surgical procedures on minors, which will be enforced starting Dec. 31.
Doctors who violate the ban will be disciplined by the state medical licensing board, according to WGN9.
In his ruling, Hanlon concluded the ACLU presented “evidence of risks to minors’ health and wellbeing from gender dysphoria if those treatments can no longer be provided to minors — prolonging of their dysphoria, and causing additional distress and health risks, such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicidality,” the AP reports.
“While the State has identified legitimate reasons for regulation in this area, the designated evidence does not demonstrate, at least at this stage, that the extent of its regulation was closely tailored to uphold those interests,” the judge claimed.
The ruling comes despite the state’s argument that associated risks of gender-altering treatments during puberty, such as future fertility loss, a decline in bone strength, or brain development, had not been adequately studied, nor the procedures proven safe.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who supported the legislation, has not announced if his office plans to appeal the injunction before July 1, according to the AP, but he voiced disappointment in the decision to block parts of the law.
“Fortunately, surgical medical treatments on minors for gender dysphoria remain banned,” Rokita tweeted Tuesday. “My office looks forward to future opportunities in this case to show the court that receiving hormones is dangerous for our children and should be banned as well.”
At least 20 states have restrictions or bans on gender affirming care for minors.