A District Court judge in Missoula County, Montana has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of Senate Bill 99, which would have prevented transgender minors from seeking gender-affirming healthcare. The bill sought to ban specific medical procedures such as hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and gender-affirming surgeries for transgender minors. The judge argued that the law violates transgender minors’ fundamental rights to privacy and creates a sex-based classification, potentially violating Montana’s Equal Protection Clause.
The court order, issued by Judge Jason Marks, stated that Senate Bill 99 likely does not serve its stated purpose of protecting minors from harmful medical treatments, nor does it survive constitutional scrutiny. The judge also found that the bill infringes on the right to privacy under Montana’s Constitution because the medical treatments targeted by the law are not recognized as medically necessary or posing bona fide health risks. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the state include transgender teenagers and their parents, as well as medical providers and anonymous parents representing a third transgender teenager. The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from the ACLU, Lambda Legal, Perkins Coie, and the ACLU of Montana.
The defendants in the case, including the state of Montana, Governor Greg Gianforte, and Attorney General Austin Knudsen, argue that the bill protects minors from experimental and dangerous medical procedures and that protecting children is a compelling state interest. However, Judge Marks found that the legislative record does not support the claim that Senate Bill 99 is intended to protect minors.
Senator John Fuller, who sponsored the bill, expressed disappointment with the ruling, calling it a “ruling against the children of the state of Montana.” He expects the decision to be appealed to the Montana Supreme Court. The fate of the law will ultimately depend on further judicial review.
Source: Missoula Current