A bill aiming to ban sex-reassignment surgery and puberty-blocking medication for minors passed the South Dakota House of Representatives by a vote of 46-23 on Wednesday.
Christopher Motz, executive director of the South Dakota Catholic Conference, praised the vote.
“Given the moral and ethical issues at stake, which are fundamental to the integral good of the human person, it’s great to see such a strong vote in the House,” he told CNA on Thursday.
“The voices of faithful citizens encouraging their elected leaders no doubt contributed to this positive result,” he continued. “As the bill advances to the Senate, the voices of faithful citizens will be crucial to securing another strong vote.”
HB 1057 would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor for doctors to dispense puberty-blocking drugs to those under the age of 16 for the purpose of changing or affirming the perception of their sex, and lists a number of surgical procedures including castration, vasectomy, and hysterectomy that doctors would not be allowed to perform on minors.
The South Dakota Catholic Conference supports the measure and is encouraging Catholics to contact their lawmakers about the bill.
“HB 1057 would protect boys and girls from harmful medicalization with unknown, potentially life-long consequences,” the conference wrote on January 16.
“With deep compassion for the experience of suffering that marks those with gender dysphoria, the Church firmly insists on the dignity of all human persons as created and loved by God, and further expresses special affection for the marginalized and suffering.”
“HB 1057 would ensure children, especially those experiencing distress concerning their sex, are given the chance to develop and grow in understanding the gift of their created nature without pressures towards harmful medicalization,” the conference concluded.
Just a few Republicans voted against the bill, the Associated Press reported. The legislation will now be considered in the Senate.
The provisions of the bill do not apply to “the good faith medical decision of a parent or guardian of a minor born with a medically-verifiable genetic disorder of sex development.”
The South Dakota bill comes in the wake of an October 2019 decision by a federal judge to strike down an Obama-era requirement that doctors perform gender-transition surgeries upon request.
The regulation stemmed from Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination in health care on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. HHS interpreted “sex discrimination” under this rule to include gender identity, thus mandating the provision of gender-transition surgeries.
In response to the rule, an alliance of more than 19,000 health care professionals, nine states, and several religious organizations combined in two lawsuits against the mandate, saying that it unlawfully required doctors who objected to the procedures to violate their religious beliefs or the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm to the patient.
Similar bills to the one proposed in South Dakota are under consideration in other states, including ones introduced during the 2020 session in Florida and Colorado that, like the South Dakota bill, would impose criminal penalties for transgender surgery performed on minor.
In other states, like Illinois, Oklahoma and South Carolina, bills are under consideration that provide for the loss of a doctor’s medical license if they perform transgender surgery on a minor.
A bill under consideration in Missouri would revoke a doctor’s medical license if they administer gender-reassignment treatment, and parents who consent to such treatment would be reported to child-welfare officials for child abuse, the AP reports.
State lawmakers in Kentucky and Texas also have announced plans to file similar bills, the Washington Post reports.
A state representative in Georgia during November 2019 proposed a law that would make it a felony for medical professionals to attempt to change a minor’s gender either through surgery or medication.