Lawmaker says some pharmacists refuse to fill gender-confirming prescriptions

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A Nebraska lawmaker says her office has been contacted by families who have reported that some pharmacists are wrongly refusing to fill prescriptions for gender-affirming medications for their transgender children, citing a new state law that limits the ability of any person . Children under 19 years of age receive puberty blockers or gender-affirming hormones.

Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt sent a letter Wednesday to the state's chief medical officer, Dr. Timothy Tesmer, asking him to inform all Nebraska health care professionals, including pharmacists, that the new law specifically allows minors who were already receiving these medications before the law. came into force to continue that treatment.

The law, often referred to as LB574, also prohibits gender-affirming surgeries for trans youth under 19. It came into effect on Sunday.

“However, parents and patients inform me that they have been denied prescriptions essential to care that were prescribed before October 1, 2023,” Hunt's letter reads. “Apparently, some Nebraska pharmacists are using LB574 to refuse to fill prescriptions issued by healthcare providers. “Any interruption or delay in a prescribed regimen is inconsistent with the plain letter of LB 574 and is inconsistent with the medical standard of care for these patients.”

A spokesperson for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a message asking whether the department or Tesmer would honor Hunt's request.

The new law would allow some new transgender patients under age 19 to begin pharmaceutical treatment under a set of guidelines to be drafted by the state's chief medical officer.

Tesmer, who was appointed to that position weeks ago by Republican Gov. Jim Pillen, had said during his confirmation hearing that he probably wouldn't be able to issue those guidelines before Oct. 1. But he did publish a set of emergency regulations on Sunday Even permanent regulations could be adopted, which is expected sometime after a public hearing on the final draft is held in late November.

Those emergency regulations came after families, doctors and some lawmakers said they largely they had not received a response from the department about when the regulations would go into effect.

Hunt has been an outspoken critic of the new law and was among a handful of progressive lawmakers who helped filibuster almost all bills before the officially nonpartisan Legislature earlier this year to protest against it.

Hunt herself has endured a barrage of accusations and hateful rhetoric after she publicly shared in a floor speech that her 13-year-old son is transgender.

Earlier this year, he sued to a conservative political action committee that called her a child “groomer” and suggested she had sexually abused her own son, prompting dozens of harassing calls and emails directed at her and her office. Some of her threatened to physically harm her.

A judge dismissed his claim against the Nebraska Freedom Coalition last week. Hunt is considering an appeal.

Nebraska's restrictions on gender-affirming attention They were part of a wave of measures rolling back transgender rights in the Republican-controlled statehouse across the United States.

At least 22 states have enacted laws restricting or prohibiting gender-affirming health care for transgender minors, and most of those states are facing lawsuits. An Arkansas ban similar to Nebraska's was overturned by a federal judge in June as unconstitutional and will be appealed to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court, which also hears the Nebraska cases.

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