WASHINGTON, July 8 (Reuters) – A Tennessee law prohibiting doctors from providing medical care such as puberty blockers and gender-affirming surgery for transgender minors may take effect immediately.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said that defense groups who challenged the Tennessee law could not demonstrate that they could prevail over their claims that they violated the United States Constitution. The panel of three judges voted 2-1 to reverse a lower court decision that had prevented Tennessee from enforcing the law while it was being challenged.
“Lifetime federal judges should be careful to remove a vexing new topic of medical debate from the ebbs and flows of democracy by constructing a largely unchangeable federal constitution to occupy the field,” Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote for the court. ‘appeal.
Neither the advocacy groups that contested the law nor the state attorney general could be contacted on Saturday morning.
The Tennessee law is part of a growing series of efforts by Republican lawmakers to impose new restrictions on medical care for transgender youth. Lawmakers said the measure was necessary to protect minors from permanent harm. Medical associations have said that gender-affirming treatments can save lives.
It prohibits any medical procedure performed for the purpose of enabling a minor to identify with a gender other than the one assigned at birth.
Federal judges blocked five laws similar to Tennessee’s from enactment. Those judges found that the laws violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law.
The appellate court decision Saturday said that in the absence of clear evidence that Tennessee law violates the Constitution, choices regarding medical care and child protection are better determined by state lawmakers.
Judge Helen White said she believes the Tennessee law “is probably unconstitutional” as a type of sex discrimination.
Sutton wrote that the appeals court will seek to reach a final decision on the Tennessee law by Sept. 30. “These initial views, we must acknowledge, are just that: initials,” she wrote. “We could be wrong.”
Reporting by Brad Heath; Editing by Daniel Wallis
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