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ACLU sues to stop Ohio’s gender-affirming youth health care ban

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(The Center Square) – After promising to sue two months ago, the ACLU of Ohio made it official and filed a lawsuit to block the state’s ban on gender-affirming care for youth.

The suit, filed on behalf of two families in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, asks the judge to issue a temporary restraining order on the once-vetoed House Bill 68 before it takes effect April 24.

The lawsuit says the bill violates the Ohio Constitution’s single subject, the health care provision, the equal protection clause, and the due course of law provision.

“The ban on gender-affirming care will cause severe harm to transgender youth,” said Freda Levenson, legal director at ACLU of Ohio. “These personal, private medical decisions should remain between families and doctors; they don’t belong to politicians. HB68 violates the Ohio Constitution in multiple ways. We will fight in court to ensure that trans youth and their parents can access critically important, lifesaving health care without government intrusion.”

The legislation blocks gender-affirming care for minors, including surgeries, puberty blockers, and hormone therapy. It also bans males from participating on female sports teams.

In December, Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed the bill and a week later issued an executive order that banned gender-affirming surgeries on minors and developed corresponding health care rules for children and adults.

The rules include protections for adults and children receiving care in the state hospitals that would stop what DeWine called “fly-by-night” providers or clinics giving out medications without quality care.

They would also require multi-disciplinary teams at hospitals to provide support care, including psychiatrists and a comprehensive plan of the risks associated with the treatment and required mental health counseling.

The Republican-majority Senate easily voted to override the veto in late January. The House, also majority Republicans, did the same earlier in the month.

“Good intentions don’t save lives and protect women. Good policy does,” bill sponsor Rep. Gary Click, R-Vickery, said on the floor before the House vote to override. “We have a choice to follow emotion or follow the evidence. We cannot continue to fall into the trap of allowing children to self-diagnose. Why in the world do we live in a world that says to kids that you need a scalpel and drugs to be your true self.”

The ACLU calls gender-affirming care lifesaving health care supported by major medical associations nationwide, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association.

Ohio is the 23rd state to ban gender-affirming health care for youth.

“We refuse to allow lawmakers to move forward with these cruel restrictions that directly harm transgender young people,” said Chase Strangio, a deputy director at the ACLU. “Families are now confronted with the extremely difficult decision of fleeing the state they call home to protect their children or allowing them to go without the care they and their doctors know is right for them. H.B. 68 is government overreach point blank, and we are determined to reinstate Ohio families’ right to make personal medical decisions with healthcare providers – not politicians.”

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