LITTLE ROCK, Ark. –Arkansas politicians are speaking out after the federal appeals court blocked the state from enforcing its ban on children receiving gender reassignment medical care.

Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 8th United States Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s earlier ruling temporarily blocking Arkansas ACT 626. The 2021 act, titled “The SAFE Act,” prevented healthcare professionals from providing or referring someone under 18 to “gender transition procedures.”

An October trial will take place to determine if the block, based upon the 14th Amendment, should be permanent.

The state attorney general had earlier appealed the district court ruling and will appeal the Thursday ruling.

A statement from a spokesperson for the state attorney general’s office shortly after the Thursday ruling said the office “plans to seek review by the full Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Arkansas politicians had opinions about the Thursday ruling.

Senator Tom Cotton issued a statement referring to the medical treatments using “experimental drugs and surgeries” and the influence of liberal policies on government.

“Our legislature voted to protect kids from experimental drugs and surgeries that could permanently damage their health and well-being. By blocking this law again, the court has kept the fate of Arkansas’s children in the hands of liberal activists who support ‘sex-changes’ for children.”

Sen. Tom Cotton

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who had originally opposed the SAFE Act, calling it a “vast government overreach” at the time, encouraged new legislation with a narrower focus.

“I vetoed this bill because I had concern it was too broad and would not be upheld in court.”

“Act 626 is the most extreme law in the country.  It is important that we approach laws like this carefully.  I am absolutely against sex change operations for minors.”

“I encourage the legislature in January to put together legislation with a more narrow focus to protect our children.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson

Arkansas was the first state to prohibit doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment or surgery to those under 18.

In March 2021, the Arkansas Senate approved the act banning gender confirming treatments for children.

In April 2021, the general assembly overrode Hutchinson’s veto. This made Arkansas the first state to prohibit doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment or surgery to children under 18.

The act was due to go into effect July 28, 2021

Once the act passed the legislature, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the state to strike down the bill. The act was then sent to a federal appeals court, resulting in Thursday’s ruling.