Amid debate over a controversial South Dakota bill that would make it a crime to perform sex change surgeries on children, the sponsor of the legislation likened such procedures to "bizarre" medical experiments conducted by the Nazis, the Argus Leader reported.
Republican state Rep. Fred Deutsch told Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, in an interview last week that he realized transgender surgeries on children shouldn't be allowed after seeing images online of scars caused by the surgeries that "blow you away," the paper said.
"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," he told Perkins, according to the Argus Leader. "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."
House Bill 1057 would make it illegal for doctors to treat transgender children younger than 16 with hormone treatment, puberty blockers and gender confirmation surgery, the paper said.
Deutsch on Monday defended his statements to Perkins — but added to the Argus Leader 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."
The paper said Nazi medical experiments included eugenics, the practice of eliminating population groups considered inferior in order to improve the genetic pool — and the Nazis forcibly sterilized 400,000 people. Citing the U.S. Holocaust Museum, the Argus Leader added that Nazi prisoners also were subjected to painful and sometimes fatal medical experiments.
Deutsch added to the paper that his comments to Perkins weren't related to statements made during the House State Affairs Committee's bill hearing last week when others compared transgender procedures to Nazi experiments.
More from the Argus Leader:
The Women's Liberation Front published a press release on its website about its board members testifying in the committee's HB1057 hearing on Wednesday in which it released its report, "Eugenics: Then and Now," connecting historical eugenics with transgender medical treatment today.
Michael Laidlaw, a endocrinologist in California, also made the connection between eugenics and transgender medical treatment today when he testified in the HB1057 hearing on Wednesday, cautioning South Dakota legislators that major medical systems are capable of causing harm to people.
"Examples in the United States, the despicable Tuskegee syphilis experiment on African-Americans. The entire German medical establishment was behind atrocious human eugenics experiments in Nazi Germany, including untold numbers of children," Laidlaw told the House committee, according to the paper.
Deutsch also told Perkins he's been receiving hate mail over his sponsorship of the bill and that "some people just cannot communicate opposition without going overboard," Newsweek reported.
State Rep. Jamie Smith, the House's Democratic leader on the committee, told the Argus Leader that Laidlaw's connection between the Nazis and transgender medical treatment is "not a fair statement" and "ridiculous."
"What doctors are providing is the best care they know for their patients," Smith said, according to the paper.
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota 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 vote on the bill is scheduled to take place Wednesday, Newsweek said.