Alabama legislators on Thursday sent a bill to Gov. Kate Ivey’s desk that would make it a felony for doctors to provide hormone treatment, puberty blockers and gender reassignment surgery to persons under the age of 19.
The measure, passed in a 66-28 vote Thursday in the state’s House of Representatives, provides up to 10 years in prison for offending medical practitioners.
The bill also would require school officials to inform a parent or legal guardian when a “minor’s perception of his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”
In recent years, other states have approved similar legislation, but Alabama is the first to classify medical provision of such practices as a felony.
Rep. Neil Rafferty, an openly homosexual member of the Alabama Legislature, castigated supporters of the bill during debate Thursday. “Y’all sit there and campaign on family being the foundation of our nation,” Rafferty said, “but what this bill is doing is totally undermining that. It’s totally undermining family rights, health rights and access to health care.”
But sponsors argued that “minors, and often their parents, are unable to comprehend and fully appreciate the risk and life implications, including permanent sterility, that result from the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgical procedures.”
“Their brains are not developed to make the decisions long term about what these medications and surgeries do to their body,” Wes Allen, the Republican lawmaker who introduced the legislation in the State House, said during the debate.
He also likened the initiative to laws that prevent minors from getting tattoos or buying tobacco.
“We make decisions in this body all the time that are to protect children from making decisions that could permanently harm them,” Allen said.
The American Civil Liberties Union said it would challenge the measure in court if it becomes law.
Gov. Ivey has not said whether she would sign the bill, but last year she signed one banning transgender athletes from school sports.