Lawsuit filed against Ohio for restricting health care options for transgender youth

Less than a month before House Bill 68—a statewide ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth—becomes law, the ACLU of Ohio said Tuesday it sued the state over the legislation with global law firm Goodwin. Filed Tuesday afternoon in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, the lawsuit seeks to block HB 68 from going into effect on schedule and at all. It is filed on behalf of two 12-year-old transgender Ohio girls and their families, one from Hamilton County and one from Franklin County, and argues they would lose “critical, medically necessary health care” under HB 68.

The ACLU said months ago it would seek legal remedy over the new rules. “The ban is cruel. It’s not based on science and it’s unconstitutional,” ACLU Legal Director Freda Levenson said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue that HB 68 goes against the Ohio Constitution by breaking a single-subject rule for legislation and discriminating against trans minors, among other claims. In addition to the transition treatment ban, HB 68 blocks them from participating on youth teams that align with their gender identity.

An amendment backed by GOP lawmakers worried about Obamacare restricting health care choices more than a dozen years ago is also being cited by the ACLU as a reason for why HB 68 is unconstitutional. Major American medical associations back puberty blockers and other treatments for trans youth, Levenson said, which is why she wants physicians to continue prescribing care for patients under the current status quo. “The interventions that are prohibited are the medical profession’s standard of care treatments. They’re the only effective interventions,” she said.

Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery) was instrumental in HB 68’s passage and said he knew a lawsuit would materialize. “From the very day I started working on the bill, I knew there would be one,” Click said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed HB 68 late last year, but almost all GOP lawmakers voted during sessions of the Ohio House and Senate to override that veto in January. Click said other courts in other states have sustained these laws. “I think they’re (the plaintiffs) going to give it their best shot. I don’t think that they stand much of a chance,” Click said. The common pleas court has yet to schedule a hearing in the case.

By Samantha Robertson

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