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Bailey sues St. Louis provider over gender-affirming care for minors

Andrew Bailey, newly appointed Missouri Attorney General, speaks to the media on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, after being sworn in as the state’s 44th attorney general at the Missouri Supreme Court in Jefferson City.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Andrew Bailey, shown after being sworn in as attorney general on Jan. 3, has sued a St. Louis health care center, saying it failed to provide mental health screenings before prescribing puberty blockers or hormones to transgender youth.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey has sued a St. Louis-based community health center over its gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

“As long as I’m Attorney General, I will fight to ensure that Missouri is the safest state in the nation for children,” Bailey said in a statement Sunday announcing the suit.

The claim against Southampton Community Health Center is based on testimony in a hearing on a lawsuit challenging the new law, which bars transgender youth from obtaining puberty blockers or hormone therapy unless they were already prescribed such treatment. A judge in August allowed the restrictions to go forward.

But the lawsuit does not accuse the center, in The Hill neighborhood, of violating those new restrictions. Instead, Bailey argued that Southampton’s failure to provide a “comprehensive mental health assessment” before prescribing hormones or puberty blockers to minors violates the state ban on deceptive advertising.

Bailey is asking for a $1,000 penalty for each violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act and for Southampton to be required to pay restitution to those he argues have been harmed.

Southampton Community Health Care is one of the few providers in Missouri still offering medical interventions such as puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. Other centers, such as Washington University’s, have stopped providing that care, even for current patients.

Southampton Community Health Care could not immediately be reached for comment.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.