GOP state lawmakers in South Dakota introduced legislation earlier this week that would make it a felony for doctors to provide minors transgender health care, such as puberty blockers.
The bill, which has more than 40 co-sponsors, was introduced Tuesday into the GOP-controlled legislature by state Rep. Fred Deutsch,NBC News reports.
“Children need to wait until they’re mature to do it,” Deutsch said. In the bill, “it” refers to gender-related surgeries as well as nonsurgical options. According to the network, Deutsch described these practices as “dangerous,” saying that they could have negative psychological and physical effects on minors.
Under the proposed law, medical professionals would face a Class 4 felony providing gender-transition treatment to a minor. A Class 4 felony carries up to a 10-year prison sentence in South Dakota.
While Democratic lawmakers in the state have vowed to oppose the bill, they make up only 16 percent of the state House and 14 percent of the Senate.
Libby Skarin, policy director for the ACLU of South Dakota, said that “transgender kids, like all kids, deserve a chance to experience joy, to learn in a safe environment, to get the health care that they need, and to survive into adulthood.”
“When the government proposes laws that would stigmatize them and undermine their care, they lose those opportunities,” she added.