Getty Idaho's State Capitol
Idaho's Republican-led state Senate killed a bill that would have made it a felony for parents to help transgender teens receive gender-affirming health care, a surprise move that comes after a national outcry over the policy.
Senate Republicans said in a statement Tuesday night that while they still oppose gender reassignment surgery for kids under 18, they were blocking the bill because it undermined parental rights and amounted to government overreach.
"We believe in parents' rights and that the best decisions regarding medical treatment options for children are made by parents, with the benefit of their physician's advice and expertise," they said.
The decision to kill the bill was unexpected after Idaho's House of Representatives, which is also Republican led, overwhelmingly voted in favor of it last week. All but one of Idaho's 58 Republican representatives voted for bill HB 675, with all 12 Democrats vetoing the legislation. They were joined by one Republican, the only physician serving in the House.
If the bill had passed in the Senate and approved by Republican Gov. Brad Little, anyone who gave children permission to get gender-affirming health care such as hormone therapy, puberty blockers and sex reassignment surgery would have be punished and faced life in prison. It also would have barred parents or guardians from taking a trans child out of state for care, making it one of the most restrictive legislation targeting trans youth in the U.S.
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Idaho senators included comments from the Idaho Medical Association in their statement, which said that no gender-affirming surgeries currently happen in the state. They also said that the bill's language was too vague and could cause issues for children who needed other types of medical care.
"The bill's language in its current form could be interpreted to extend into the realm of medically necessary care for kids that is in no way related to transgender therapy, but serves children with highly specialized medical needs," the senators said.
The bill was one of 29 different pieces of legislation that Republican-led state governments have introduced this year that restrict transgender children from getting health care. A few weeks earlier, in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott authorized the state's Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents who are allowing their transgender children to get gender-affirming surgeries, calling it a form of "child abuse."
Katherine Jones/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty Images People rally outside of the Idaho state capitol for transgender rights in 2020
Major medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have said that gender-affirming medical care is a medically-necessary service for transgender kids.