Friday, September 22, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Friday, September 22, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge temporarily halts Missouri attorney general’s attempt to regulate transgender care

The emergency order, which is stayed until May 1, would require both minors and adults who are currently undergoing gender-affirming treatments to immediately stop receiving the care for at least 18 months.

CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) — A St. Louis County judge on Wednesday temporarily halted an emergency order issued by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey that would have blocked transgender patients from seeking care for at least 18 months.

Judge Ellen Ribaudo issued a stay until Monday, May 1, giving her more time to consider a motion for a temporary restraining order against the rules.

The decision is in response to a lawsuit filed Monday challenging an Emergency Order issued by Bailey. The order would have taken effect at midnight.

Bailey, a Republican, became the first state attorney general to attempt to limit gender-affirming care when he announced the emergency regulations on March 20. The restrictions, which apply to both minors and adults, include an 18-month waiting period, 15 hour-long psychiatric assessment sessions and a requirement that any mental conditions are “resolved” before Missouri doctors can provide gender-affirming care.

The regulations would require both minors and adults who are currently undergoing gender-affirming treatments to immediately stop receiving the care until the requirements of the order are met.

Led by Southampton Community Healthcare, a group of plaintiffs filed suit in St. Louis County Court asking a judge to issue an injunction against the order. They claim Bailey over-stepped his authority in attempting to implement the order, which uses the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act as its basis. That statute is primarily used to regulate fraudulent business practices.

The 37-page lawsuit states that “volumes of empirical evidence and decades of clinical experience demonstrate that medical care for the treatment of gender dysphoria, also known as gender-affirming care, is medically necessary, safe, and effective for both transgender adolescents and adults with gender dysphoria.”

The plaintiffs claim the order puts them at risk for irreversible harm to their health and well-being. The lawsuit noted the high number of suicide attempts by transgender people and said that gender-affirming care has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health.

Wednesday’s ruling capped a flurry of legal activity as the midnight deadline loomed.

Bailey’s office filed to remove the case to the Eastern District of Missouri. After a hearing Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Circuit Judge Henry Autrey, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled that the federal court did not have jurisdiction and remanded it back to St. Louis County where an emergency hearing was held before Ribaudo late Wednesday afternoon.

The order was announced after Bailey called for a moratorium on the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapy at St. Louis Children’s Hospital's Washington University Transgender Center while his office investigates claims by former case manager Jamie Reed that patients were rushed into treatments and parents were not properly informed about the nature of the treatments.

Gender-affirming care has become a hot button topic in Missouri, where the state’s Republican-dominated legislature is working to pass bills outright banning the care to minors.

Follow @@joeharris_stl
Categories / Civil Rights, Health, Law

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.