Georgia Republican state senators approved a bill on Tuesday that restricts minors from getting gender transition treatments and threatens doctors who perform such actions with civil and criminal penalties.
In a vote of 31-21, SB 140 was passed and is now heading to Gov. Brian Kemp, who is expected to sign the bill into law.
The bill would ban most gender-transition surgeries and hormone therapies for transgender individuals under the age of 18 in Georgia, although doctors could still give prescriptions for puberty blockers.
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One of the bill’s primary sponsors, Republican state Sen. Ben Watson, spoke on the bill before the senate voted on its approval.
"What we’re doing here is we’re preventing minors under 18 years old from having irreversible changes in their lives," he said.
State Sen. Carden Summers, also a Republican, said he was compassionate about protecting the lives of children by not offering life altering drugs and surgeries that are completely irreversible, adding that he looked forward to looking people in the eye to share his compassion.
Democratic state Sen. Kim Jackson, though, requested her colleagues vote no on the bill because of a change made at by House representatives.
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Jackson said the bill that was sent to the house provided immunity to doctors and medical personnel who provided access to hormone treatment necessary to treat gender dysphoria.
But the House removed that line, she said, and the bill now holds doctors and medical professionals criminally and civilly liable, "simply for doing their jobs," and following medical advice that has been peer-reviewed by standards shared across the U.S.
Another Democratic state senator, Elena Parent, told the Senate she has been against the bill since its first reading, agreeing with Jackson that the doctors should not be held liable for doing their jobs.
Parent also charged the Republican majority with talking out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to parents being entrusted with making decisions for their own children.
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"The rule does seem to be that we are for parental rights when those parents make decisions we agree with," she said. "And when we don’t like the decisions they make, then we intend to outlaw those decisions."
Ultimately, Democrats like Parent and Jackson were outnumbered, and the bill was passed.
Georgia Equality, an organization that promotes the advancement of fairness, safety and opportunity for LGBTQ Georgians responded to the decision on social media.
"We are saddened by the Senate passage of SB 140 today," Executive director Jeff Graham said. "Parents, working in collaboration with their medical teams and adhering to standards of care, should be able to make decisions regarding their child’s healthcare."
The director’s statement continued by saying the bill threatens an already serious shortage of healthcare workers by holding the doctors accountable, and he called on Gov. Kemp to veto the legislation.