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Missouri Judge Blocks GOP Attorney General’s Ban on Gender-Affirming Care

Missouri Judge Blocks GOP Attorney General’s Ban on Gender-Affirming Care

Activists in MIssouri holding signs and flags in support of transgender rights.

She issued a temporary injunction that lasts until after she’s had an opportunity to hear some arguments in the case.

A Missouri judge temporarily halted a rule that requires adults and children to complete more than a year of therapy before receiving gender-affirming treatment like puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery.

Judge Ellen Ribaudo of St. Louis County Circuit Court temporarily blocked enforcement of Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s emergency rule.

She ruled that the plaintiffs would “be subjected to immediate and irreparable loss, damage or injury if the Attorney General is permitted to enforce the Emergency Rule, and its broad, sweeping provisions were implemented without further fact-finding or evidence.”

As she pointed out, patients “are at high risk of having their medical care interrupted for an unknown length of time; once the Rule goes into effect, they may lose access to medical care through their current providers until such time as the provider can come into compliance with the Rule’s requirements.”

As soon as the Attorney General filed an emergency rule on April 13, that imposed severe restrictions on trans people seeking gender-affirming care, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP filed a petition seeking a temporary restraining order against him.

In Southampton Community Healthcare v. Bailey, the plaintiffs are Southampton Community Healthcare, Kelly Storck, Logan Casey, and two families of transgender teens.

“We are immensely gratified by today’s ruling, which strikes a blow against this outrageous attempt to ban gender-affirming care for broad categories of transgender people of all ages,” Lambda Legal staff attorney Nora Huppert said in a statement. “We will continue to fight for our clients and for all transgender people in Missouri until this dangerous and unprecedented policy is set fully aside, and we will not be deterred by any attempt to shield this policy from the scrutiny of Missouri’s courts.”

Dr. Michael Donovan of Southampton Community Healthcare also praised the judge’s order.

“We thank the Court for understanding the urgency of temporarily stopping enforcement of the Attorney General’s emergency rule that would have immediate impacts on the way we provide care to our patients,” Donovan said.“Without this halt on the baseless and discriminatory rule, our practice would have been forced to grapple with how to provide ethical medical care to our transgender patients in a way consistent with our obligations under a rule that places illogical barriers to necessary care.”

ACLU of Missouri’s deputy director of litigation, Gillian Wilcox, also lauded the judge’s order.

“Today’s ruling marks a win for transgender Missourians over an unprecedented attempt by the Attorney General to unilaterally legislate and harm their right to self-expression, bodily autonomy, and access to lifesaving health care,” Wilcox said.“As was clear from the beginning, the Attorney General’s claim of an emergency was proven an untruthful and dangerous attempt to get involved in individual and family medical decisions, showing that he will attack the very people he was supposed to serve and protect.”

Monday’s order followed a hearing in St. Louis County Circuit Court, where a federal judge rejected the Missouri Attorney General’s last-minute appeal for case transfer. Once the case was returned to state court, a new hearing was scheduled to address the plaintiffs’ temporary restraining order request.

The court had stayed the rule until Monday evening to consider the temporary restraining order request after the hearing.

There will be a hearing for a preliminary injunction at 1 p.m. on May 11. The restraining order is scheduled to expire on May 15.

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