The American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging Arkansas' law banning
health care for transgender youth.
Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican,
vetoed House Bill 1570 but Republicans in the General Assembly
overrode his decision in April. The law is the first in the nation.
The law prohibits health care
professionals from providing or even referring transgender youth for
transition-related health care and allows private insurers to refuse
coverage for transgender individuals of any age. The bill is expected
to take effect on July 28.
Plaintiffs in the federal case are four
transgender young people and their families as well as two doctors.
In a press release, the ACLU said that
the law violates various clauses of the US Constitution.
“It violates the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it discriminates on the
basis of sex and transgender status by prohibiting certain medical
treatments only for transgender patients and only when the care is
‘related to gender transition,’” the lawsuit states. “This
discrimination cannot be justified under heightened scrutiny or any
level of equal protection scrutiny. In addition, by preventing
parents from seeking appropriate medical care for their children when
the course of treatment is supported by the child and their doctor,
the Health Care Ban interferes with the right to parental autonomy
guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Lastly, the Health Care Ban violates the First Amendment by
prohibiting healthcare providers from referring their patients for
medical treatments that are in accordance with the accepted medical
standards of care to treat gender dysphoria.”
ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director
Holly Dickson said that the law “would be devastating to trans
youth and their families, forcing many to uproot their lives and
leave the state to access the gender-affirming care they need.”
“Gender-affirming care is life-saving
care for our clients, and they’re terrified of what will happen if
this law is allowed to take effect.” Dickson said. “No child
should be cut off from the medical care they need or denied their
fundamental right to be themselves – but this law would do both.
We’re suing to stop this cruel and unconstitutional law from taking
effect and inflicting further harm on these children and their
At least one of the plaintiff families
said that they are considering moving out of Arkansas to escape the