The long-term effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v. Wade continues to unfold. Pro-family lawyers are now using the historic ruling to argue against “transitioning treatments” for children.
The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case is causing consternation amongst pro-abortion advocates for its overturning of the nearly 50-year-old Roe ruling. However, pro-life activists hope to add further victories in defense of life and family in other fields.
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Three days after the June 24 Supreme Court ruling, Alabama’s Republican Attorney General Steve Marshall filed with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to have a state bill protecting children from “gender transitioning” go back into effect after pro-abortion and pro-LGBT advocates fought against the bill.
History of the Children Protection Act
Alabama’s Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act (SB184) was signed into law by state governor Kay Ivey in early April this year. Under its terms, providing gender transitioning drugs—such as puberty blockers—and performing transitioning surgery on children are prohibited. The law penalizes “any individual,” including doctors, who either prescribe or administer such drugs, handing out a 10-year jail term and a fine of $15,000.
However, on May 13, the Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Liles Burke issued a temporary injunction on parts of the Act after it took effect on May 8, when the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and others sued to block it.
The U.S. Justice Department also joined in the suit, saying the Act constituted an “alleged denial of equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on account of sex.”
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Other anti-family advocates opposing the law included the GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
AG Marshall Fights Back
Following this opposition, on June 27, Attorney General Marshall filed a brief with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, drawing heavily from the Supreme Court’s decision which overturned Roe. As noted by Family Research Council, A.G. Marshall’s argument drew heavily from a line on page 2 of the ruling, which reads: “The Court finds that the right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition.”
A.G. Marshall referenced Dobbs repeatedly throughout his arguments, and the phrase “deeply rooted”—taken from the Supreme Court—is common in his text. “But no one—adult or child—has a right to transitioning treatments that is deeply rooted in our Nation’s history and tradition,” he wrote.
“Transitioning treatments are neither ‘deeply rooted’ nor ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty,’” he added.
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In granting the injunction against the act, Judge Burke had given the appearance of defending parental rights, saying that it “likely violates a ‘fundamental right’ of parents ‘to treat their children with transitioning medications,’ and likely constitutes an unlawful sex-based classification.”
The opponents to the act also argued that parents have a “fundamental right to treat their children with transitioning medications subject to medically accepted standards.” Yet, A.G. Marshall rebuffed this—using Dobbs—saying that “the court identified no evidence that such a purported right is deeply rooted in our history or traditions, much less that the Constitution outsources the parameters of such a right to medical interest groups.”
A.G. Marshall continued, writing that “courts are in one accord that there is no personal substantive-due-process right for anyone—adult or child—to obtain medical treatments deemed dangerous or experimental by the government, so there is no reason to think that parents have a right to obtain those same treatments for their children.”
Pro-life Ruling and Mentality Underpinning Arguments
Indeed, the reliance upon the Dobbs ruling in A.G. Marshall’s brief appears not to be merely circumstantial but one born out of a conviction of the pro-life and pro-family cause. Hours after Dobbs and Roe were overturned, Marshall issued a statement praising the overturning of the “fatally flawed decision” of Roe v. Wade and noting that “the State of Alabama has unequivocally elected to be a protector of unborn life.”
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Following the Supreme Court’s decision, a federal court removed an injunction on the state’s 2019 pro-life laws making abortion at any stage of pregnancy a Class A felony—the highest kind. The punishment ranges from 10 years in jail to life imprisonment. However, certain exceptions do remain, meaning that abortions are permitted when deemed to be “necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.”
“Both the federal district court and the plaintiffs recognized that there is no basis for a continued stay of the duly-enacted law in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” wrote A.G. Marshall, announcing the news. “Thus, Alabama’s law making elective abortions a felony is now enforceable.”
Marshall Took ‘Full Advantage’ of the Supreme Court’s Decision
Welcoming A.G. Marshall’s brief, Family Research Council wrote that he had taken “full advantage of the Supreme Court’s decision to cede power to set abortion policy back to the states.” Marshall’s office “has taken the court’s logic and transferred to a new application: a defense of ‘the State’s compelling interest in protecting children from dangerous, experimental treatments,’” added the group.
Nor is Alabama alone in proposing such legislation to protect children from the dangers of transgender surgery. In May 2021, Tennessee imitated Arkansas by banning transgender drugs for children, and only recently, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey prohibited such transgender surgeries for children, calling the move “common sense.
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Aside from the denial of objective and genetic reality, puberty-blocking drugs have been described as “child abuse” by Dr. Quentin Van Meter, the president of the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds).
He described puberty blockers as the start of a “conveyer belt,” which carries children “down the assembly line to cross-sex hormones. And then at the end, have an option to do surgery to mutilate their bodies to appear like the opposite sex.”
As for the side effects of such drugs, osteoporosis, kidney damage, heart damage, brain damage, and mood imbalances are documented risks. Sterility can also occur when puberty blockers are joined with cross-sex hormones. But Dr. Van Meter warned that while the damaging effects are known in adults, the long-term damage the drugs will cause to children is not fully understood since “there has been no long-term study to look at this.”
Just as Roe v. Wade opened the legal door to the Sexual Revolution, the Alabama case shows that Dobbs can serve to close it.
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