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Republican-dominated committee votes down South Dakota bill outlawing transgender medical treatments on children

Which means the state legislature likely won't consider the Vulnerable Child Protection Act again this year

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

After the South Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill outlawing transgender medical procedures on children late last month, a state Senate committee — dominated by Republicans — voted down the bill Monday, which the Associated Press said likely means the Vulnerable Child Protection Act won't be considered by the legislature again this year.

The House passed the bill 46-23; the Senate committee voted it down 5-2, the AP said.

What are the details?

House Bill 1057 deems it illegal — a Class 1 misdemeanor — for doctors to perform gender-affirming operations or surgeries or prescribe hormone replacement therapy to assist gender transitions for anyone under the age of 16, Inforum reported, adding that the penalty for a Class 1 misdemeanor is a year in jail and a $2,000 maximum fine.

Here's what would be outlawed, Inforum noted:

  • Performing the following surgeries: castration, vasectomy, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, metoidioplasty, orchiectomy, penectomy, phalloplasty and vaginoplasty.
  • Performing a mastectomy.
  • Prescribing, dispensing, administering or otherwise supplying the following medications: Puberty-blocking medication to stop normal puberty, supraphysiologic doses of testosterone to females, supraphysiologic doses of estrogen to males.
  • Removing any otherwise healthy or non-diseased body part or tissue.

Conservative lawmakers in other states — South Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, and New Hampshire — are pushing similar proposals, the AP said.

But some Republican state senators in South Dakota and the state's Republican Gov. Kristi Noem wondered about the prudence of moving forward with the bill, the outlet said, even though the GOP holds a super-majority in the Legislature.

More from the AP:

LGBT advocates and Democrats argued that the proposal would have stopped children with gender dysphoria from receiving medically necessary health care that improves their mental health. They demonstrated outside the Capitol before Monday's Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting.

Quinncy Parke, a 17-year-old transgender teenager, testified before the committee and had one word to describe the feeling of seeing the bill die: "ecstatic."

"It's gone," Parke said. "I don't have to worry about it until next year."

What do the bill's backers have to say?

The sponsor of the legislation — Republican state Rep. Fred Deutsch — likened procedures that would have been outlawed to "bizarre" medical experiments conducted by the Nazis.

"To me, that's a crime against humanity when these procedures are done by these so-called doctors ... that dance on the edge of medicine," Deutsch told Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council recently. "You know, I'm the son of a Holocaust survivor. I've had family members killed in Auschwitz. And I've seen the pictures of the bizarre medical experiments. I don't want that to happen to our kids. And that's what's going on right now."

At first Deutsch doubled down on his controversial comments with the caveat that he wasn't likening doctors who treat transgender children to Nazis: "I've been to a whole bunch of Holocaust museums all over the world. It's very personal to me. It's just a simple reflection that the pictures seem similar to me."

But he soon told CNN he regretted the comparison: "Comments I made based on my history of being the son of a Holocaust survivor are regrettable."

Deutsch told the AP he wouldn't bring the issue again this year but added that the governor worked "behind the scenes" to oppose the bill.

"That's simply not accurate," Kristin Wileman, the governor's spokeswoman, told the outlet, adding that Noem never took a formal position on the bill.

What do the bill's opponents have to say?

Dozens protested outside the Capitol Monday, riding horses on the grounds, waving rainbow flags, and holding signs to support transgender people, the AP reported.

The outlet also said the South Dakota State Medical Association opposed the bill, arguing it discriminated against transgender people and interfered with physicians' ability to administer necessary medical treatment.

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota also was against the bill — and applauded the committee's down vote, NBC News said.

"Though supporters claimed House Bill 1057 was aimed at protecting vulnerable youth, it was clearly fueled by a fear and misunderstanding of transgender South Dakotans," Libby Skarin, policy director for the group, told the network. "It's time we stop these attacks and the very real harm they cause to transgender youth across our state. Let this be a signal to the South Dakota Legislature that discrimination against a marginalized group is a distraction from the needs of the state and hurts us all."

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