Opponents react to passing of HB1080

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 9:54 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - House Bill 1080 has been subject to public debate since it was written. The legislation, if passes, would limit medical procedures available to transgender youth in the state.

On Thursday, the house voted to pass HB 1080 to the senate, bringing it one step closer to being signed into law. Testimony on the house floor was passionate and opponents of the bill are reacting to the recent developments on the legislation.

HB 1080 is titled “An Act to Limit Certain Medical and Surgical Interventions on Minor Patients.” Opponents are concerned with how the bill will affect the lives of transgender kids in the state of South Dakota.

“It was such a landslide vote that it really was devastating to get that news,” said Susan Williams, founder and executive director of the Transformation Project.

Much of the debate correlates with use of language which has made it difficult for proponents and opponents of the bill to find middle ground.

“Medical providers in our state have become increasingly bold about the harmful medical treatments and experimental procedures being conducted on children in our state,” Said Rep. Bethany Soye (R) Sioux Falls, District 9. “In the guise of medical treatment, children are being mutilated, sterilized, and turned into permanent medical patients.”

Rep. Liz May (R) of District 27 said in response to accusations that the bill doesn’t value transgender youth, “We’re not saying that you’re worth less or worth more or any of that. We want you to grow up and be able to make these decisions as an adult. We do that with alcohol. We do it with tobacco. We do it with a lot of things.”

To some opponents, the bill represents a non-issue in the state.

“If they were to talk to South Dakota providers and people in the healthcare field, this is not what’s happening here in South Dakota,” said Williams “I wish that they would not use the inflammatory language because it instills fear in the general public.”

One of the few Republicans to vote against HB 1080, Rep. Jess Olson of District 34, cited concern that the bill is not relevant for South Dakota because parents can say no already and these instances don’t occur in the state.

“You haven’t heard a single example of it happening in South Dakota,” said Olson. “You may have a different philosophical view than me, but if it isn’t here and you can’t have someone telling me that it’s happening here and you can’t tell me it’s a problem here, then as a conservative I’m going to say I don’t need this law.”

“I mean, they sound scary and I think that’s their intent because they want to scare people into thinking that we need this bill,” said Jana Farley, Communications Director for the South Dakota ACLU. “But when it comes down to it, you know, this bill really represents discrimination.”

On the use of inflammatory language, Rep. Erin Healy (D) of District 10 said that “they’re intentional mischaracterizations of the evidence-based medical procedures that you will find for gender-affirming care.”

Opponents say this bill violates the United States Constitution and is a solution looking for a problem.

“It’s discriminating against individuals based on sex, it’s discrimination against individuals based on transgender status, and it violates parents’ rights under the due process clause,” said Farley

Rep. Kadyn Wittman (D) of District 15 brought up other anti-transgender healthcare bills across the United States like one in Arkansas, which is facing litigation.

“This is the single most expensive piece of litigation that is happening across our nation,” Wittman said. “I’m not asking you to pick a side. I’m not asking you to make a decision about our trans-youth and their families. I’m asking if you think about South Dakota taxpayers and how they’re going to feel when we are hit with a lawsuit for this kind of discrimination and we have to spend millions of their dollars defending our decision today.”

Currently, there is no date set for senate committee hearings on the bill. Opponents ask that senate members listen to transgender people and healthcare workers who have reached out.