Politics

Republicans kill bill that would have put doctors in jail for transgender care

Activists and protesters with the National Center for Transgender Equality rally in front of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, in Washington, after the Department of Education and the Justice Department announce plans to overturn the school guidance on protecting transgender students.
Activists and protesters with the National Center for Transgender Equality rally in front of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, in Washington, after the Department of Education and the Justice Department announce plans to overturn the school guidance on protecting transgender students.Photo: (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

A bill that would have sent doctors to jail for prescribing puberty blockers and other gender confirmation-related care to transgender youth in South Dakota was killed in a state senate panel.

House Bill 1057 passed the state house last week as Republicans in South Dakota and at least nine other states pursue legislation to jail doctors for providing care for transgender youth.

Related: South Dakota passes bill that would make it illegal for teachers to talk about trans people

But a senate panel voted 5-2 to kill the bill for the year.

State senators Helene Duhamel (R), Art Rusch (R), Wayne Steinhauer (R), Deb Soholt (R), and Red Dawn Foster (D) all voted against the bill while state senators Phil Jensen (R) and Lance Russell (R) voted in favor of moving it to the state senate floor.

State Sen. Rusch said that the controversial bill received “several times as much” communication from advocacy groups and constituents than a normal bill does.

“It’s a problem we don’t really know the solution to at this time,” he said, referring to transgender youth getting medical care as a “problem.”

State Sen. Soholt simply said, “We’re not ready.”

HB 1057 was opposed by medical groups that wanted to keep medical decisions between doctors and patients, as well as by business groups that worried about the state’s reputation if the bill passed.

State Rep. Fred Deutsch (R) co-sponsored the bill in the state house. He said that puberty blockers and other care for trans youth is “mutilation of our children.”

“I don’t care if it’s doctors, I don’t care if it’s parents,” he said. “To me, that’s a crime against humanity, when these procedures are done by these so-called doctors, you know, that dance on the edge of medicine. I just don’t think it should be done.”

“I think – 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.”

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