Bill banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth in Louisiana is resurrected

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Amid growing pressure from Republicans, a bill banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth in Louisiana who was narrowly killed by a legislative committee last week has been resurrected .

In a rare case, the Senate voted to send the controversial bill to another committee, giving it a second chance. The measure, which was rejected by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee last week, captured statewide and national attention after a Republican voted to kill the bill.

Senator Fred Mills, the Republican chairman of the health and welfare committee that voted last week’s deciding vote, told his colleagues in the chamber on Thursday that he opposed reviving the bill. law, adding that if lawmakers respect the committee’s majority vote, they will uphold the decision. But the Senate voted 26 to 11 — according to the parties, except for Mills — to refer the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is due to meet on Friday afternoon.

The bill has already been passed in the House. If the Senate Judiciary Committee advances the bill, it will then go to the full Senate for debate. Upon final passage, the measure would be sent to the office of Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who opposes the bill. Edwards did not say whether he would veto it.

“Do what you have to do,” Mills told lawmakers Thursday. “We can talk about the merits of the bill for a long period of time, and I know people say they want (the bill) to be heard on the floor. I understand that. But I will tell you that this committee has done a hell of a job.

Tensions around the legislation reached a boiling point last week after Attorney General Jeff Landry, who is running for GOP governor this year, and the Louisiana Republican Party pressured lawmakers to quit. ‘they resuscitate the proposed ban on gender-affirming care and embrace it.

Additionally, anti-transgender activists have taken to social media, including conservative political commentator Matt Walsh, who tweeted to his nearly 2 million followers that Mills would regret his decision and that it was “the biggest mistake of his political career.

Mills, who sided with Democrats in the committee vote, has repeatedly said he stands by his decision.

“As I have always done in my 16 years as a legislator, I relied on science and data and not on political or societal pressures,” Mills, a pharmacist at the University, said last week. Rural Louisiana. “I prioritized the value of the doctor-patient relationship, I trust that Louisiana doctors know better than I how to treat these children, and I decided that this was one if unique small subset of medical needs of the entire population that I should not take away from approved and appropriate medical options.

Opponents of the Louisiana bill argue that gender-affirming care, which is backed by all major medical organizations, can save the life of someone with gender dysphoria – a distress related to gender identity. that does not match a person’s assigned sex. Research suggests that transgender children and adults are prone to stress, depression, and suicidal thoughts. LGBTQ+ community advocates fear that without care, transgender children face particularly heightened risks.

According to a report by the Louisiana Department of Health, only a few dozen minors received gender-affirming care, including hormone therapy and puberty blockers, between 2017 and 2021. This data only took into account young people. enrolled in Medicaid. Additionally, the report revealed that no gender-affirming surgeries were performed on Medicaid-enrolled minors during this time period.

Currently, children in Louisiana need parental permission to receive gender-affirming health care before they turn 18.

Proponents of the legislation argue that the proposed bans would protect children from life-changing medical procedures until they are mature enough to make such serious decisions.

So far, at least 18 states have enacted laws restricting or prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors, and the three states bordering Louisiana have enacted bans or are in the process of doing so.

The ban in Arkansas, the first state to ban such care, was temporarily blocked by a federal judge. The governor of Mississippi signed a ban into law in February. The Texas governor said he would sign a ban lawmakers sent him.

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