Idaho Senate halts healthcare bill targeting trans youth

The Idaho State Capitol building is seen in Boise
The Idaho State Capitol building is seen in Boise, Idaho, U.S., October 29, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

March 16 (Reuters) - Idaho's Senate has blocked a controversial bill that would have outlawed gender-affirming healthcare for transgender children under the age of 18.

Republican leaders in the Idaho Senate halted the advancement of the bill on Tuesday, saying it undermined parental rights and amounted to government overreach, even as they affirmed their staunch opposition to any kind of trans-related medical care.

"We believe in parents' rights and that the best decisions regarding medical treatment options for children are made by parents, with the benefit of their physician's advice and expertise," Republican Senate leaders said in a statement released late on Tuesday.

The Republican-sponsored legislation would have made it a felony for anyone to provide gender-affirming surgeries and medications like puberty-blockers by amending existing provisions on female genital mutilation. It also would have criminalized taking a child across state lines to receive that care.

Idaho's House had overwhelmingly passed the bill last week.

The Senate's action marked a victory for LGBTQ groups, medical professionals and civil liberties advocates opposing moves by conservative politicians in dozens of states to criminalize gender-affirming treatments for trans youth.

Numerous medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, support these treatments, calling them potentially life saving.

Republican lawmakers have sought this year to pass a number of measures limiting trans healthcare, an issue that has emerged as a key front in the culture wars ahead of the November mid-term congressional elections.

Last week, a Texas judge temporarily blocked the state from investigating parents who provide their transgender children with gender-affirming care. Governor Greg Abbott has called such care "child abuse."

The state's attorney general, Ken Paxton, appealed the injunction. It remains unclear whether investigations into parents are continuing while the matter rests with the courts.

In Alabama, legislation seeking to criminalize anyone who provides gender-affirming healthcare to minors could be voted on in the state's House this week.

Reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Tim Ahmann

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