FIRST ON FOX: A group of thirteen state attorneys general warned Attorney General Merrick Garland against investigating and prosecuting critics of child gender transition surgeries.
Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti led the letter with 12 of his fellow state attorneys general to Garland on Wednesday, demanding President Biden’s attorney general “stand down” on several medical organizations’ requests to investigate “disinformation campaigns” about child gender transitions.
The attorneys’ general letter came after the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Medical Association (AMA), and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) asked Garland to take “swift action to investigate and prosecute” individuals responsible for what they alleged are “increasing threats of violence” against hospitals and physicians targeted for “providing evidence-based gender-affirming care.”
“From Boston to Akron to Nashville to Seattle, children’s hospitals, academic health systems, and physicians are being targeted and threatened for providing evidence-based health care,” the medical groups told Garland.
AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION ASKS DOJ TO INVESTIGATE ‘DISINFORMATION’ AGAINST GENDER SURGERIES FOR MINORS
“The attacks are rooted in an intentional campaign of disinformation, where a few high-profile users on social media share false and misleading information targeting individual physicians and hospitals, resulting in a rapid escalation of threats, harassment, and disruption of care across multiple jurisdictions,” the medical groups added.
A free society cannot tolerate trusted professionals calling on law enforcement and big tech to suppress criticism,” Skrmetti told Fox News Digital. “We are slipping into a dangerous orthodoxy where dissent is pushed further and further to the margins.”
“America was founded through passionate disagreement, and the ongoing vitality of our Republic depends on our shared commitment to free speech,” he added.
Stanley Goldfarb, chairman of medical watchdog Do No Harm, criticized the medical associations and commended the attorneys general for their letter.
“Medical associations should follow the science, not try to stifle public debate – especially when they’re pushing a divisive ideology that could literally ruin children’s lives,” Goldfarb said.
“The AMA demands that we follow their lead without question, yet these are the same forces who falsely equate psychological counseling for children to ‘conversion therapy’ in order to railroad minors into a predetermined path of drugs and surgery,” Goldfarb continued.
“The better path is to listen to these state attorneys general and let this conversation continue nationwide,” he added.
In the letter exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital, the attorneys general wrote of their “deep concern with the recent letter” Garland received from the medical associations, which they said asked him “to investigate and prosecute people who question the medical establishment’s current treatment of children struggling with gender dysphoria.”
The top cops told Garland he “cannot and should not undertake such investigations or prosecutions.”
“We emphatically agree that anyone engaged in violent crime or threats of violence should be investigated and prosecuted by the appropriate authorities. But the medical organizations are asking you for much more than that,” they wrote.
“They are asking you to direct the criminal enforcement power of the federal government not only at those committing or threatening violence but also at those whose speech may ‘provoke’ such threats,” the attorneys general continued.
The top cops wrote that the medical organizations’ “broad request, and related comments by leaders in the medical organizations, indicate that they are interested not just in preventing violence but also in suppressing ideas with which they disagree” and pointed to CHA president Amy Wimpey Knight’s press release accompanying the letter that “targets ‘misleading and inflammatory comments that result in threats.’”
“No doubt the medical associations object to the characterization of double mastectomies for minors as ‘mutilation’ or ‘cutting healthy breasts off teen girls,’ or of hormonal treatments as ‘chemical castration,’” the letter reads.
“These descriptors may inflame and provoke. They are also entirely protected by the First Amendment,” the attorneys general continued, citing the case Terminiello v. Chicago and adding in a parenthetical there “is no room under our Constitution for a more restrictive view. For the alternative would lead to standardization of ideas either by legislatures, courts, or dominant political or community groups.”
The attorneys general pointed to Sweden’s, the United Kingdom’s, and France’s restrictions on child gender transition procedures and surgeries, and said one “might expect a bit more intellectual humility from U.S. medical organizations when they address the life-altering, irreversible procedures they are championing as the cure du jour for pediatric gender dysphoria.”
They also pointed to the medical community’s past pushes of procedures now considered unethical, such as how the AMA “embraced eugenics as a cure for various social ills” and how “the frontal lobotomy came into vogue as a treatment for psychiatric ailments” in the mid-Twentieth Century.
“Despite these past cautionary tales and recent radical changes in pediatric practices, the medical establishment asks you to forcibly eliminate criticism of the treatment regime for gender dysphoric minors,” they wrote. “We would welcome clarification from the organizations as to the scope of their request, but as of now it appears they would rather silence critics than debate them.”
“We respectfully demand that you stand down and allow the national conversation to continue. Now is a time for more speech, not less. Each side must have the opportunity to marshal evidence, make its case, and attempt to persuade the American people of the rightness of its position. This is the process most likely to attain the truth and promote effective policymaking. Silencing critics of current gender dysphoria treatment practices for minors will not make children any safer or healthier. Instead, it will lead to bad decision-making and erode public confidence in both the federal government and the medical community.”
The top cops wrote they “are particularly troubled by the medical organizations’ parallel calls” to Garland and “leading social media platforms to take action against speech they find unwelcome or inconvenient regarding the treatment of pediatric gender dysphoria,” and pointed out that a “concerted effort by government and industry to suppress speech violates America’s most fundamental principles.”
“Americans frequently disagree about important issues. That is normal and healthy,” the attorneys general wrote. “But the answer to disagreement is never the criminalization of speech.”
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“Nothing matters more than protecting our children. We need to make sure we are doing that right,” they continued. “The only way to obtain that certainty is through rigorous interrogation of current practices. Criticism must be welcomed, not silenced.”
Joining Skrmetti on the letter are 12 of his fellow state attorneys general, including Ken Paxton of Texas, Derek Schmidt of Kansas, and John O’Connor of Oklahoma.
Fox News Digital’s Brianna Herlihy contributed reporting.