Alabama's Republican governor Friday signed into law a bill passed by the legislature just a day earlier that would criminalize gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth.
The measure makes it a felony punishable with up to 10 years in prison to provide medical care including hormone treatment, puberty blockers, and surgery to help align physical characteristics to the gender identity of a minor.
"I believe very strongly that if the good Lord made you a boy, you are a boy, and if he made you a girl, you are a girl," Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement. "We should especially protect our children from these radical, life-altering drugs and surgeries when they are at such a vulnerable stage in life."
The American Academy of Pediatrics had urged Ivey to veto the measure. Medical and mental health professionals say gender-affirming care saves lives by reducing the risk of depression and suicide.
"This legislation targets vulnerable young people and puts them at great risk of physical and mental harm," Mark Del Monte, the academy's chief executive, said in a statement Thursday. "Criminalizing evidence-based, medically necessary services is dangerous."
Civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union vowed to challenge the law in court.
The Alabama law is among several measures on transgender youth that are advancing in Republican-led states ahead of the November mid-term congressional elections.
Ivey also signed a bill Friday requiring students in public schools to use bathrooms and changing rooms that match the gender on their original birth certificates. A last-minute amendment to the bill made on the last day of the legislative session prohibits classroom discussion on sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grades.
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