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Washington gov.'s bill signing lets shelters harbor minors for abortions or gender reassignment

The bill applies to juveniles regardless of their state residence or nationality.

Published: May 11, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill allowing youth shelters to not report children there to their parents if the child is deemed a "runaway" seeking an abortion or "gender-affirming" irreversible surgeries. Irreversible surgeries considered "gender-affirming care" under existing state law include removing a girl's uterus and breasts and a boy's genitals.

Senate Bill 5599 alters existing state policy regarding "compelling reasons" for a youth shelter or "host home" to not report runaway minors. Prior, a compelling reason was "circumstances that indicate that notifying the parent or legal guardian will subject the minor to abuse or neglect," both of which are classified as crimes."

Although many of the bill's supporters and some media outlets have described the legislation as a way to protect children who run away from home due to abuse, which are already crimes, the law does not require evidence or suspicion of abuse or neglect for youth shelters or host homes to keep a runaway minor and not notify the parents.

As defined by state law, "gender-affirming care" includes but is not limited to the following procedures:

Breast augmentation, Chemical peel, Dermabrasion, Facial feminization surgeries, Facelift, Facial masculinization surgeries, Forehead brow lift, Genital modification, Hairline modification, Hair removal by electrolysis or laser, Hysterectomy, Lip enhancement, Reduction thyroid chondroplasty (chondrolaryngoplasty or tracheal shave), Rhinoplasty, Skin resurfacing, Liposuction, Mastectomy, Penile implant, and Voice modification

Inslee described the law at the May 9 signing as a way to "help young people through difficult times" by "taking a more compassionate developmentally appropriate and reasoned approach to support these youth as they access gender-affirming treatment and reproductive services."

However, the bill has drawn harsh criticism from parental rights advocates and other organizations for how it allows children to be withheld from parents without due process. There is also no timeline for when the shelters or host homes need to notify the parents of the child's whereabouts. The bill applies to juveniles regardless of their state residence or nationality.

In an email newsletter released after the bill's signing, Snohomish County Republican Chairman Bobb Hagglund described it as "the most evil and aggressively anti-family, anti-child legislation ever proposed in Washington. Government, now by law, will be hiding what they are doing to your children from you under the false pretense that you are an abuser and oppressor, that government is your child's savior."

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