COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP/KTVI) — A Missouri judge says a law banning gender-affirming treatments for minors can take effect.
St. Louis Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer ruled that the law will kick in Monday, as previously scheduled. Families of transgender minors had sued to overturn the law. They asked Ohmer to temporarily block it as the court challenge plays out.
But his ruling means that beginning Monday, minors in Missouri no longer can receive gender-affirming surgeries. Children prescribed puberty blockers or hormones before Aug. 28 will be allowed to continue treatment. Other children won’t have access to those medications.
Additionally, some adults will also lose access to gender-affirming care. Medicaid no longer will cover treatments for adults, and the state will not provide those surgeries to prisoners.
Physicians who violate the law face having their licenses revoked and being sued by patients. The law makes it easier for former patients to sue, giving them 15 years to go to court and promising at least $500,000 in damages if they succeed.
The ACLU of Missouri, Lambda Legal, and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner last month sued to overturn the Missouri law on behalf of doctors, LGBTQ+ organizations, and three families of transgender minors, arguing that it is discriminatory. They asked that the law be temporarily blocked as the court challenge against it plays out. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Sept. 22.
But Ohmer wrote that the plaintiffs’ arguments were “unpersuasive and not likely to succeed.”
“The science and medical evidence is conflicting and unclear. Accordingly, the evidence raises more questions than answers,” Ohmer wrote in his ruling. “As a result, it has not clearly been shown with sufficient possibility of success on the merits to justify the grant of a preliminary injunction.”
Shortly after that ruling, another Republican state (Texas) went the opposite direction, and a judge blocked the state’s push to ban on gender-affirming medical care for minors.
In an exclusive one-on-one interview with FOX 2’s Emily Manley earlier this week, Attorney General Andrew Bailey said he was fighting to protect.
“We will work to ensure the laws are faithfully executed,” said Bailey. “We’re not going to let that crowd to sterilize children with mental health conditions. Our General Assembly has set down a police position in law, and we’re going to enforce the law as written.”
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones shared the following statement:
“Today’s shameful ruling will prevent trans Missourians from living their authentic lives and drive families out of our state. St. Louisans reject the Missouri legislature’s anti-trans bigotry, and in consultation with LGBTQIA+ leaders, I enacted an executive order to promote inclusiveness in city government. We will continue to fight back against the legislature’s hateful attacks and lift up the diversity that makes St. Louis an inclusive community for all, no matter your identity.”
Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, released the following statement:
“We are deeply saddened by the court’s decision to allow Senate Bill 49 to take effect. This law is a shameful mark on our state.
“On Monday, trans and gender-expansive young Missourians will have their rights stripped away — unless a higher court intervenes. They are terrified and furious that Missouri politicians are using ideology and junk science to deny them life-saving health care and erase their existence — and we are right alongside them. Politicians have no business probing around or dictating what care can be provided in our exam rooms.
“We won’t allow attacks on Missourians’ right to bodily autonomy to deter us — we are steadfast in our commitment to providing care to anyone who comes through our doors, no matter what. We will work with patients to get the care they need in Missouri, or, in Illinois, where gender-affirming care is protected under state law.
“No matter what, our doors are open, and we’ll do all we can to provide Missourians with the care they want and need to live a dignified and authentic life.”
Aro Royston, board secretary of the Missouri LGBTQ+ advocacy group PROMO, released the following statement in part:
“We are enraged — not only has our government and elected officials failed us, but now our justice system has failed to do its job in protecting the most vulnerable of our population. …
“We are enraged — not only has our government and elected officials failed us, but now our justice system has failed to do its job in protecting the most vulnerable of our population. The courts told the transgender community, parents of gender-expansive youth, and the entire LGBTQ+ community that we do not exist, that we do not have the right to make our own medical decisions or the right to bodily autonomy. There is no categorical ban like this in the world making the actions of the Missouri State Government the most egregious in history.”