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If evidence was needed that the consequences of the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade are likely to go well beyond abortion, it didn’t take long.
Just days after the court ruled that women do not have a constitutional right to an abortion, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office used the same language as the court’s decision in its arguments in support of a ban on transgender medical care for youth in the state.
In the majority opinion overturning Roe, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that abortion is “not deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition.” The office of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall repeated this language, arguing in its brief that gender affirming treatments are also not part of that history and tradition, so no children or their parents have constitutionally protected rights to those treatments.
A federal appeals court is considering the fate of a new law in Alabama that would ban some medical care for transgender youth in that state.
In April, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill making it a felony for a doctor to prescribe puberty blockers or hormones to minors under the age of 19. Some reconstructive surgery is also banned. Violations are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Families of transgender youth and physicians sued to block the law, saying it was discriminatory and would harm children who could not access treatment. A federal judge issued an injunction stopping the ban on May 14. The Alabama AG argued that the injunction was harmful and should be lifted.
Even before last month’s ruling, legal experts warned that the Supreme Court overturning a constitutional rights to an abortion could impact other rights beyond abortion, including LGBTQ rights.
In the majority opinion, Alito wrote that the abortion ruling should not cast “doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” But Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, in a concurring opinion, that the majority’s rationale should be used to reconsider other high court rulings based on the Due Process Clause, including those protecting same-sex marriage, private sexual acts and contraceptives.
Alabama’s move is the latest egregious example of politicians marginalizing transgender Americans and restricting their rights.
“Alabama politicians are trying to criminalize transgender people and erase us from our communities,” C.P. Hoffman, senior policy counsel at the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement last week. “Moves like this hurt transgender youth and their families and go against what doctors and scientists know to be true: gender-affirming care is medically necessary and can be life saving for transgender young people.”
The full ramifications of last month’s Supreme Court ruling on abortion won’t be fully known for years. But, just as predicted, it is already being used as a justification for attempts to restrict other rights. That is a dangerous precedent from the court.