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South Dakota House passes bill outlawing transgender medical procedures on children

The Vulnerable Child Protection Act now heads to the state Senate

JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP via Getty Images

The South Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill outlawing transgender medical procedures on children Wednesday — the Vulnerable Child Protection Act — by a 46-23 vote, Inforum reported, adding that it now heads to the state Senate.

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, the outlet said, 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.

Nurses would be exempt from prosecution, the outlet added.

Controversy

The sponsor of the legislation — Republican state Rep. Fred Deutsch — likened such procedures 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."

Opposition

Democratic state Rep. Kelly Sullivan asked the House to vote down the bill, Inforum reported: “What this is telling me is that it's OK for the government to involve itself in the private family matters of South Dakotans when it's convenient for the agenda of some. Why are we legislating and involving ourselves into some aspects of health care but not others?"

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota has said it will fight the legislation, Newsweek noted.

"By blocking medical care supported by every major medical association, this legislation represents a callous disregard for the health and wellness of South Dakota's transgender youth, some of the most vulnerable people in our state," Heather Smith, executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota, said in a statement, according to the magazine. "We want South Dakotans to know that we are investigating all of our legal options. If this bill becomes law, it will be challenged. We will see you in court."

'The child can't consent'

But GOP state Rep. Jon Hansen asked the House to “be not afraid" and pass the bill, Inforum reported.

“In the testimony, it was presented that it's the parents who really consent, it's not the child," Hansen said, according to the outlet. “That makes sense because the child can't consent. It's been covered already. We treat young children differently. We don't let them smoke, drink, gamble, drive, have sex. It's a perversion of the whole notion of parental rights to say that a parent can consent to a young child to having sex. We don't say that. Minors need protection because they're prone to irrational decisions. They don't have the reasoning capacity to make these types of decisions."

One last thing…
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