Court upholds Oklahoma’s medical mutilation ban for minors


TULSA, OK – Last week, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Oklahoma can enforce its new law protecting minors from puberty blockers, hormone treatments, and medical mutilating surgeries.

While the law was signed last May, it was immediately challenged by five families with gender-confused adolescents and the Oklahoma attorney general voluntarily agreed not to enforce it pending whether the judge upheld or blocked the law. Now that the judge has upheld the law, the attorney general has stated the state will now enforce the law.

Senate Bill 613, which passed overwhelmingly in both the state’s legislative chambers, makes it a felony for health care providers to conduct these procedures on patients under the age of 18.

In his ruling, District Judge John Frederick Heil III stated that the U.S. Constitution and current law do not provide an “affirmative right” to specific medical treatments. With the magnitude of risks involved with such procedures, Judge Heil noted that Oklahoma’s “exercise of caution” in banning them was warranted due to the state’s interest in protecting children, public health, and integrity of the medical profession.

Judge Heil wrote, “Plaintiffs have not demonstrated a fundamental right for parents to choose for their children to use puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries,” therefore the Oklahoma Legislature “can rationally take the side of caution before permitting irreversible medical treatments of its children.”

Judge Heil summarized Oklahoma’s law as simply requiring minors reach the age of 18 before undergoing “physiological procedures to treat the psychological condition of gender dysphoria.” He stated that upholding this age-based restriction was “harmonious” with the actions of many other courts.

“Indeed, courts have upheld restrictions designed to protect and prevent minors from engaging in behaviors that are far less risky than the procedures banned by SB 613…This is precisely the type of age-based legislative decision that courts have long accepted,” wrote Judge Heil.

At least 22 states have passed similar legislation protecting children. The other states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

Last month, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to uphold similar laws protecting minors in Kentucky and Tennessee. And last August, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Alabama can fully enforce its 2022 “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act,” which also makes it a felony to provide any of these procedures to a minor. 

In Arkansas, a federal judge declared last June that its “Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act” was unconstitutional. However, Arkansas has appealed the ruling, and the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals approved the state’s request for all 11 judges on the Court, rather than a three-judge panel, to hear its appeal. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The District Court has justly decided that Oklahoma is free to protect children from these harmful procedures that have devastated many young lives. Children are not social experiments and state legislatures have considerable discretion to protect them.”

For more information about state laws protecting against gender ideology, visit Liberty Counsel’s website here.