On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to controversial legislation that would protect children from sex-change procedures as minors.
House Bill 66 (HB66) is sponsored by State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy). Its Senate companion bill is Senate Bill 184 (SB184) by State Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville). Both bills received a favorable report on March 2 by the House Judiciary Committee and can be taken up by the full House of Representatives at any point.
According to the synopsis, “This bill would prohibit the performance of a medical procedure or the prescription or issuance of medication, upon or to a minor child, that is intended to alter the appearance of the minor child's gender or delay puberty, with certain exceptions. This bill would provide for the disclosure of certain information concerning students to parents by schools. This bill would also establish criminal penalties for violations.”
“We have taken this bill up the last three years,” Allen said. “The amendment is ‘except for male circumcision. Sen. Shelnutt wants both of them to be the same.
“HB66 seeks to block puberty blocks, trans-sex hormones, and any surgery to minors. Adults can do whatever they want to.
“The purpose of this bill is to protect children. “It is similar to the female genital mutilation bill that we passed earlier.”
Allen said that there are laws already on the books to bar minors from drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes regardless of whether the parents want them to or not.
“We want to protect children,” Allen said.
State Rep. Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham) said, “I don’t have any problem with the amendment.”
“Parents have that right to make that decision for children,” Coleman said. “How can you justify not [allowing] a parent the right to work with their children.”
The parent that decides that gender reassignment treatment is in the best interests of the child, “That parent wants to protect their children too,” Coleman said.
“We are talking about powerful medications that are not FDA approved,” Allen said. “There is a reason we don’t give young boys anabolic steroids that want to compete in college and professional athletics.”
“That is not a direct correlation,” Coleman said.
“These are powerful drugs,” Allen said. “There are no studies about the long-term effects this is having on their bodies.”
State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) objected to the legislative findings in the bill.
“We did not find this,” England said. “We really should not be putting these declarations in legislation. These are statements to satisfy a political base.”
England proposed an amendment removing the legislative findings language from the bill.
“I will oppose that,” Allen said.
England’s amendment was rejected by the committee.
England asked if the parents' decisions to perform these treatments are child abuse.
“In my mind, administering these medications to a child is not good for the child,” Allen said. “It is not good to give these medications to children. I can see where it would be abuse.
“We are sent down here to make tough decisions. This is not in the long-term best interests of the child.”
England said, “How big? How broad does government have to be to make these decisions for parents and doctors?”
England predicted that if this passes then the doctors that perform these procedures will leave the state of Alabama as will the families that want these procedures and that there will be a spike in suicides as a result.
“They are going to go somewhere else,” England said. “Parents are going to leave the state.
“I believe this legislation is going to endanger children,” England said. “It sends a bad message about humanity and how we care for them in Alabama.”
State Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison) said, “This concept is alien to me. I have no personal experience that I can bank on. No one in my family has ever done this or any of my close friends. I really do not understand it yet I am called to make a decision.”
State Rep. Allen Farley (R-McCalla) said that this was a very difficult bill because there are doctors on both sides of this issue.
England suggested that prosecuting people who broke this law would be difficult because the family that came to the doctor for assistance would have to be the one turning in the doctors.
State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne), who like England is also an attorney, disagreed.
“It is not difficult to subpoena records from a pharmacist,” Simpson said. “This is not an impossible case to prosecute. It is simple to get the records. This isn’t a difficult area to prosecute.”
State Rep. Jim Hill (R-Odenville) is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“SB184 and HB66 are identical bills,” Hill explained.
Rep. Prince Chestnut (D-Selma) said, “It seems very audacious to put legislative findings on something that even the medical experts can’t agree on.”
Both bills received a favorable report and both can be addressed by the full House of Representatives at any time. SB184 has already passed the Senate.
Tuesday was day 19 of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session.
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