The House State Affairs Committee in South Dakota has passed a proposal that will make it illegal for doctors to treat children younger than 16 with hormones or gender-reassignment surgery.
South Dakota is one of at least six states with proposed legislation to outlaw the practice.
Now that it has passed the state affairs committee, it will pass to the Republican-controlled House floor.
The lawmakers originally wanted the penalty for doctors who violate the measure to be a class 4 felony, but it has been lowered to a class 1 misdemeanor.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican State Rep. Fred Deutsch made the common sense argument that young children shouldn’t be making life altering decisions based on childhood feelings.
“A child’s belief that he or she is of the opposite sex, and the South Dakota doctor’s decision to provide the procedures banned in this bill, are based solely on a child’s feelings,” Deutsch told reporters. “There’s no blood test, there’s no brain scan, nor any objective medical test to detect it. It’s feelings, and as you all know, feelings change, especially in children.”
The Democrats have argued that the legislation will lead to the LGBTQ community and their allies boycotting the state.
“There will be blowback,” Democrat House Minority Leader Jamie Smith told the Washington Times. “We’ll be labeled as a state that is not welcoming and is not inclusive.”
“As you all know in South Dakota, we don’t allow children to smoke, play video lottery, buy a South Dakota lottery ticket, gamble in Deadwood, or buy, serve or consume alcohol,” Deutsch explained. “Why is that? It’s because children aren’t prepared or qualified to make the decisions of this magnitude, even though they believe they may be.”
South Dakota’s Republican Governor Kristi Noem has expressed skepticism of the bill.
The American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to fight against the South Dakota legislation and any similar bills that pass nationwide. They were previously involved in the boycott over North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” that was eventually overturned.