U.S. District Judge James Moody temporarily put a stop to a new Arkansas law protecting children from sex-change surgeries and drugs.
Overriding a veto from Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the legislature passed the Save Adolescents From Experimentation — or SAFE — Act during the 2021 legislative session.
The law prohibits the use of puberty-blockers, “cross-sex hormones” and “genital and non-genital gender reassignment surgeries” on minors.
Following Moody’s ruling, Republican Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge immediately responded.
“We cannot allow children as young as 9 years old to receive experimental procedures that have irreversible, physical consequences,” she said in a news release.
“I will aggressively defend Arkansas’s law which strongly limits permanent, life-altering sex changes to adolescents,” Rutledge said, announcing an appeal of Moody’s decision. “I will not sit idly by while radical groups such as the ACLU use our children as pawns for their own social agenda.”
State Rep. Robin Lundstrom, the Republican sponsor of the SAFE Act, told The Western Journal, “While disappointing, this is not the last word on this manner.”
“The battle to protect children from chemical and surgical castration which has irreversible consequences for minors — who cannot possibly understand the long term effects — will have a full hearing in court,” Lundstrom said in a text exchange.
“I’m confident that when the facts come out, all will clearly see the need to protect children from the harms associated with these procedures. I am grateful that the Attorney General has already indicated that she will appeal this ruling,” Lundstrom said. (Disclosure: I am active in the Arkansas Republican Party and have previously campaigned for state Rep. Lundstrom.)
“Researchers do not know the long term effects puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones can have on kids,” Cox said. ” That is why many experts agree that giving puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children is experimental, at best.”
Hutchinson’s veto of the SAFE Act earlier this year garnered skepticism from Fox News host Tucker Carlson. When Hutchinson appeared several months ago on Carlson’s program, the governor said he opposed the bill on conservative principles because it was “overbroad” and “extreme.”
The bill, Hutchinson said, would have allowed the government to insert itself into the relationship between doctors and patients.
“I go back to William Buckley, I go back to Ronald Reagan, the principles of our party, which believes in a limited role of government,” he added.
Carlson countered with negative examples of sex change procedures, including depression and children harming themselves. He noted that Arkansas has other laws affecting minors, such as those regulating the drinking age and the age to get a tattoo.
Heavyweight corporate and institutional interests filed amicus briefs in favor of the ACLU lawsuit, including the Walton Family Foundation, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Northwest Arkansas Council.
There were plenty of positive developments in the last legislative session for Arkansas conservatives, whose state only became red in the past decade.
But court challenges have not been unexpected.
In addition to the transgender ruling, a second setback to conservatives came in another Little Rock federal courtroom Wednesday, as U. S. District Judge Kristine Baker blocked Act 309, which was scheduled to go into effect July 28.
“This bad ruling is unfortunate, but it isn’t surprising,” Cox said. “Judge Baker has a consistent track record of ruling in favor of abortionists. In the past the Eighth Circuit has overturned some of her bad rulings, and we believe that Arkansas will get a better decision as this case is appealed.”
Outside the courtroom, there have been other issues in Arkansas.
“I’ve been at the State Capitol in Little Rock for 32 years, but I’ve never felt the need for police protection until this year,” Cox wrote in a May update letter.
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