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North Dakota House passes bill banning transgender treatment for minors

Medical professionals who perform gender reassignment surgeries could be found guilty of a Class B felony.

Published: February 17, 2023 4:20pm

Updated: February 17, 2023 11:21pm

(The Center Square) — The North Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill Friday that bans medical professionals from gender reassignment for minors.

Medical professionals who perform gender reassignment surgeries could be found guilty of a Class B felony, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Prescribing puberty blockers or hormones would constitute a Class A misdemeanor, according to the bill.

Physicians from across the state filed written testimony opposing the bill.

"If these house bills pass, this state becomes a very dangerous place for transgender and gender diverse people," said Dr. Rachel Peterson, a Bismarck obstetrician and gynecologist. "Multiple studies have shown that gender-affirming care is lifesaving. People who receive this care report lifelong improvements in their mental health and a significantly reduced risk of suicide. This is especially noted in patients under the age of 18."

The bill passed by a vote of 66-25 and moves to the Senate for approval.

The House rejected a bill that would have allowed parents to sue providers for up to 30 years after the treatment. If the child died because of the treatment, parents could sue up to 10 years after the minor's death.

"Thirty years is an extremely long time to be looking at a statute of limitations," said Rep. Lawrence Klemin, R-Bismarck, during the debate. "Memories fade. Things change. Witness die. Witnesses move away. Everything changes in that length of time."

Rep. Brandon Prichard, R-Bismarck, the bill's sponsor, said some civil actions do not have a statute of limitations.

"And this is an issue that is so new, and so experimental, that we have to have a significantly longer statute of limitations because we don't know how the child is going to fare 30 years down the line," Prichard said. "Moreover, you can have a surgery on a child at eight years old or medications given to an eight-year-old. Do you think within six years of time he or she is going to know what to do, how to bring a civil suit if the medications impacted them?"

The bill failed by a vote of 62-29.