South Dakota has taken a step to shield minors from controversial medical procedures that alter their gender, with the passing of the “Help Not Harm” bill on Thursday. The legislation prohibits medical professionals from prescribing puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, or performing any sterilizing surgeries on minors, including castration and hysterectomies. The bill also prohibits the artificial construction of genitalia that differs from a minor’s sex and the removal of healthy body parts or tissue.
In the case of violations, HB 1080 requires the revoking of healthcare practitioners’ licenses, and it allows minors who underwent “gender transitions” as children to take legal action against their doctors. For minors who have already started taking hormones, the bill requires medical professionals to discontinue their treatment by the end of 2023. However, the bill does not restrict procedures for children with a medically verifiable disorder of sex development and treatments for infections, injuries, diseases, or disorders that stem from a previous “gender transition” procedure.
The passage of HB 1080 was met with opposition from Sanford Health, the largest employer in the state, which provides “gender-affirming care.” Despite this, Governor Kristi Noem endorsed the bill in January and is expected to sign it into law. The lead sponsor of the bill, Republican state Rep. Bethany Soye, expressed her excitement over its passage and emphasized that children “deserve true meaningful help, not permanent physical damage.” She added that South Dakota has taken swift action to protect children, learning from the mistakes of other countries that have since stopped such practices.