House sponsor Wes Allen, R-Troy, says the bill he has championed for the past three years aims to protect children from irreversible harm.
Critics say the bill actually prevents life-changing treatment from being provided to a vulnerable population of children.
All that remains now for the bill to become law is Governor Kay Ivey’s signature.
Allen said the bill is akin to protecting children from vaping, citing fellow Democrat, Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile.
“We don’t allow kids to vape even with parental permission because, as our colleague Rep. Drummond said on that mic when introducing his bill at the start of this quadrennium, ‘kids don’t don’t have the brains developed enough to understand the long-term effects of vaping,” Allen said. “I would agree with that and just like they don’t understand the long term effects of vaping, they don’t understand the long term effects of these surgeries or medications.”
The bill had a lively public hearing with speakers from each side of the issue, but there were less than 20 minutes of discussion on the bill on Thursday as Republicans decided to close debate immediately after their back from a two-hour break.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, creates a Class C felony for prescribing puberty blockers and hormones to transgender minors who face up to 10 years in prison . It also prohibits genital surgeries on minors. It went 66-28 mostly along party lines.
Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, was the only person to speak about the bill before the suspension. He echoed a series of questions he had with Allen during the committee meeting.
“Do you think parents who seek treatment for their children are abusing them,” England asked.
Allen chose several times not to answer the question directly, instead telling England “we protect children on this floor all the time”.
England also said the bill would compel families and children to testify against doctors who provide treatment.
To “help understand” the bill’s motivation, England asked Allen what he thought of transgender children.
“We want these kids to thrive,” Allen said. “We love these children. We want them to get the help they need.
England countered that the bill would not even allow children to get the mental health advice they needed, which Allen disputed.
Rep. Neil Rafferty, D-Birmingham, the only openly gay lawmaker in the legislature, lambasted fellow Republicans after the closure motion prevailed.
“It’s not a partisan issue,” Rafferty said. “It’s not Democrat. It’s not Republican. It’s not liberal, progressive. It’s not conservative, fascist. It’s a matter of being a human being.
Rafferty wondered if supporters of the bill understood what was going on in the process.
“You want to think you’re just going to a doc-in-a-box and willy-nilly getting this stuff prescribed because someone just said ‘hey, that’s it,'” Rafferty said. “That’s not how it works to be gay. That’s not how being transgender works. Believe me, if I didn’t have to be gay, I wouldn’t be. Do you know how much easier my fucking life would be? … What will happen will happen. Don’t you dare call me a friend after that.
Drummond also came on the mic to “set the record straight” on her comments on vaping and their application to this legislation.
“I challenge you to stand here and equate this bill to a vape deal, which protects the health of our children,” Drummond said.
A slew of LGBTQ rights organizations criticized the bill after it passed Thursday afternoon.
“Anti-equality lawmakers in the state capitol have recklessly passed a bill that directly flies in the face of the best advice from the medical community and infringes on the right of parents and families to make their own medical decisions. “, said Carmarion, state director of Human Rights Campaign Alabama. D. Anderson-Harvey, herself a transgender woman. “In doing so, they will also criminalize the critically important care that transgender youth desperately need. SB184 does not fulfill the proposed purpose of making our state safer; in fact, it does the exact opposite, bringing Alabama in line with states like Texas and Florida in attacking transgender children and worsening their emotional distress… HRC condemns the passage of this bill by the US legislature State of Alabama and demands that Governor Ivey veto this bill the second it arrives in his office.
Allen noted on the floor that the only transgender person to share their experience in public hearings is a woman who once identified as a transgender man and now regrets the treatment.
The HRC is joined by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other LGBTQ rights organizations in a statement Thursday announcing that legal action will be filed immediately if the bill becomes law.
“The passage of this bill means that families who love Alabama and call it home will have to walk away to ensure their children receive the basic medical care they need,” said the Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, associate professor of pediatrics at the UAB Pediatrics Division of Academic. General pediatrics. “Parents demonized by SB184 are kind, loving and supportive. They come from all over Alabama. This bill puts physicians like me in the untenable position of choosing between ignoring the medical needs of our patients or risking being sent to jail.
“This is a patently unconstitutional bill that will cause tremendous stress and harm to Alabama families and cost Alabama taxpayers millions of dollars to defend,” said Asaf Orr, senior attorney. of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “A federal court immediately halted enforcement of a similar law in Arkansas last year, and we expect the same result here.”