Ohio Supreme Court Upholds Temporary Hold on Gender-Affirming Care Ban for Trans Youth

The Ohio Supreme Court has decided not to narrow a temporary restraining order against Ohio’s ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth. This means that the legal battle will continue in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, where a trial is set for July 15.

Freda Levenson, who serves as the legal director of the ACLU of Ohio, welcomed the decision, calling it the right move to prevent constitutional violations and protect vulnerable youth. The ACLU of Ohio had initiated legal action on March 26, challenging a section of House Bill 68 (HB 68) that bars gender-affirming care for transgender youth, alleging violations of multiple sections of the Ohio Constitution.

The lawsuit represents the interests of two families with 12-year-old transgender daughters who would lose access to vital healthcare services if the ban were enforced. Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Holbrook had issued the temporary restraining order on April 16, effectively stopping the implementation of HB 68, which not only restricts gender-affirming medical treatments but also prohibits transgender youth from participating in school sports.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost had filed an emergency motion with the Ohio Supreme Court on April 22 to lift the restraining order, arguing that it exceeded the judge’s authority and applied statewide rather than being confined to the plaintiffs. However, Harper Seldin, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU, dismissed these arguments, asserting that the injunction was necessary to maintain the status quo and uphold the rights of transgender youth to access essential medical care.

HB 68, which was initially slated to take effect on April 24, faced a veto by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, but the veto was overridden by lawmakers. The Ohio Supreme Court’s decision has spurred divergent opinions from justices Pat DeWine and Jennifer Brunner, reflecting varying perspectives on the issuance of statewide injunctions.

Justice DeWine expressed skepticism about the propriety of a single judge imposing a statewide injunction, while Justice Brunner underscored the importance of restraining orders in cases involving laws that are facially unconstitutional. Brunner criticized Justice DeWine’s stance as more politically motivated than legally sound, emphasizing the paramount importance of upholding constitutional principles.

Gender-affirming care enjoys widespread support from major medical organizations across the United States, while opposition to HB 68 has been voiced by children’s hospitals, medical associations, and healthcare professionals in Ohio.

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