SALT LAKE CITY ( ABC4 ) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah is considering suing the state of Utah over a new law that prevents people under the age of 18 from receiving gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers and transgender surgeries.
Senate Bill 16 , sponsored by Sen. Mike Kennedy (R-Alpine), was signed into law on Saturday, Jan. 28. The new law prohibits gender-affirming care to be given to anyone under 18 years old unless they have been treated with gender dysphoria for at least six months. Gov. Cox signs transgender, student voucher bills into law
ACLU of Utah Communications Director Aaron Welcher said Utah is the only state that has an active law like this, and the nonprofit is willing to put every resource possible into destroying this law.
Alabama and Arkansas had similar bills passed into law, but the ACLU filed lawsuits and judges halted those laws while the cases go through the court system. Close
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Welcher said this law prevents transgender kids from getting the appropriate medical care they need.
Under the law, any individual, not just a patient, can bring a medical malpractice suit against healthcare providers who perform such services. It would also allow people who have consented to treatment in the past to revoke that consent and sue healthcare providers.
While some state leaders argue they are merely pausing these treatments until more research is done, Welcher calls it an outright ban, saying the bill does not give an end date or any definition as to when there will be enough research to back this type of treatment. On top of this, he said in order to remove the ban, the same people who passed the law would be responsible for bringing these treatments back.
“From what we saw, [removing the ban] isn’t likely seeing as how they, throughout the whole process, ignored the people’s voices on this issue,” Welcher said.
Kennedy was not available for an interview, but he released the following statement:
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“This legislation results from several months of thoughtful conversations with stakeholders to do what is best to protect our children. We can’t allow social policy to outpace science, especially when scientific evidence is still emerging and lacking in consensus. I hope we can continue working together to provide our struggling children with the support they need to grow and thrive.”
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