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Idaho asks Supreme Court to let it enforce law banning gender-affirming care

Protesters outside capital of Idaho
Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/Getty Images

The law, signed by Republican Gov. Brad Little last year, makes it a felony for doctors to provide medical treatment to transgender minors.

By John Fritze, CNN

Washington (CNN) — Idaho officials asked the Supreme Court to let the state enforce a strict ban on gender-affirming treatments for minors in an emergency request made public Monday by one of the groups involved in the case.

The law, signed by Republican Gov. Brad Little last year, makes it a felony for doctors to provide medical treatment to transgender minors such as puberty-blocking drugs, hormone therapy and certain surgeries. It also authorizes up to $5,000 in fines against medical professionals who provide that care.

A US District Court in Idaho temporarily blocked the law from taking effect late last year while the underlying case continues in federal court. The 9th US Court of Appeals upheld that decision in January.

More than 20 states have enacted laws banning gender-affirming care for minors, according to the Human Rights Campaign, though some of those laws have also been placed on hold by federal courts. The issue has generated considerable uncertainty for lower federal courts.

In November, several families and health care providers asked the Supreme Court to consider a similar ban in Tennessee. A federal judge in Tennessee temporarily blocked part of the law last year but the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals unwound that decision and later reversed the district court’s findings altogether.

That case is pending.

Idaho, which is being represented in part by the conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, argues that the lower court decisions to block the law were too broad because they swept in procedures banned under the act that the plaintiffs did not seek to continue.

Every day the law is blocked “exposes vulnerable children to risky and dangerous medical procedures and infringes Idaho’s sovereign power to enforce its democratically enacted law,” the state told the Supreme Court in its filing.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing transgender teenagers and their parents, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In January, when the 9th Circuit backed the decision to block the law, the ACLU applauded the ruling as upholding “the rights of transgender youth and their families to access the medical care they and their doctors know is right for them without political interference.”

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