England's National Health Service bans routine prescriptions of puberty blockers

An image taken from video shows a message on the T-shirt of a parent of a child who identifies as transgender standing with transgender care advocates outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Nov. 29, 2022, ahead of a court hearing regarding the waiting times experienced by people who identify as transgender. (OSV News photo/Natalie Thomas, Reuters)

(OSV News) -- Children experiencing issues with their gender identity will no longer routinely be prescribed puberty blockers, health authorities in England have confirmed.

The National Health Service confirmed March 13 that a review found there was "not enough evidence" that the drugs are safe or effective.

Puberty blockers pause the physical changes of puberty as children grow, such as the development of breasts in girls and facial hair in boys.

The BBC reported that the new policy will now not allow the medications to be prescribed "routinely" outside of a research trial, but that individual clinicians can still apply to have the drugs funded for patients on a case-by-case basis.

The government said it welcomed the "landmark decision," adding it would help ensure care is based on evidence and is in the "best interests of the child."

The decision comes after an independent review of gender services for children and a sharp rise in referrals to the Gender Identity Development Service, which is closing at the end of March.

The research revealed that GIDS had 5,000 more referrals in 2021-2022, compared to just under 250 10 years earlier.

Health Minister Maria Caulfield said, "We have always been clear that children’s safety and well-being is paramount, so we welcome this landmark decision by the NHS.

"Ending the routine prescription of puberty blockers will help ensure that care is based on evidence, expert clinical opinion and is in the best interests of the child," she said.

In early March, Pope Francis criticized what he described as "gender ideology" saying it was "dangerous … because it blurs differences and the value of men and women."

"All humanity is the tension of differences; it is to grow through the tension of differences," the pontiff said. "The question of gender is diluting the differences and making the world the same, all dull, all alike, and that is contrary to the human vocation."

OSV News has reached out to a number of Catholic experts and commentators on the issue, and was awaiting response.



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