Bill banning gender-affirming care for children passes Idaho House
Idaho' House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would criminalize gender reassignment surgeries and gender-affirming health care for people under the age of 18. Under HB 657, an update to the state's 2019 ban on female genital mutilation, medical personnel who provide gender-affirming health care and parents who agree for their child to receive such care could face life in prison.
The bill passed the Republican controlled House by a vote of 55-13 and now makes its way to the Senate. The only Republican to vote no on the measure was Represtantive Fred Wood, a retired licensed physician.
In its current form, the bill would make anybody who "knowingly engages" in specific forms of medical care "to change or affirm the child's perception of the child's sex if that perception is inconsistent with the child's biological sex," including non-surgical options like puberty blockers or testosterone injections, guilty of a felony.
Sponsors of the bill have said the bill is intended to protect children from making irreversible decisions, anf HB 657's language frames the issue as protecting children's future fertility.
"This bill is about protecting children, which is a legitimate state interest," Republican Representative Bruce Skaug, who sponsored the bill, said Tuesday. "We need to stop sterilizing and mutilating children under the age of 18."
But Democratic opponents of the bill disagreed.
"We sit around here and we call ourselves pro-life in this body, but if this bill passes that will most certainly not be true because a yes vote will be a noose around the neck kids who want to live, but not like this," Represtantive Ned Burns said, according to The Associated Press.
Responding to the notion that decisions about gender-affirming care should only be made after a person reaches adulthood, Democratic House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel noted that "allowing puberty to run its course changes the body in profound and irreversible ways."
"You are forcing people into a situation where the transition for the rest of their life on Earth will be far less effective," she said, according to AP. "You are really messing with their lives until their dying day."
Several other states are attempting to pass bills or implement orders that would potentially criminalize providing transgender children with gender-affirming care. Texas Governor Greg Abbott in February ordered state agencies to investigate gender-affirming care as child abuse.
In 2021, the American Medical Association wrote a letter to state legislators saying that such bans could have disastrous effects on the mental and physical health of transgender children. "Every major medical association in the United States recognizes the medical necessity of transition-related care for improving the physical and mental health of transgender people," the letter read.
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