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Kansas passes new restrictions on gender-affirming care for minors

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly was expected to veto a new law that would open the door for civil lawsuits against physicians who perform gender-reassignment surgery on children. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly was expected to veto a new law that would open the door for civil lawsuits against physicians who perform gender-reassignment surgery on children. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

April 7 (UPI) -- The Kansas Legislature Friday approved a bill that expands restrictions on gender-related healthcare for minors and allows legal action against doctors who would have their medical licenses revoked for providing gender reassignment surgeries.

SB 26, also known as the Kansas Child Mutilation Prevention Act, opens the door for civil lawsuits against physicians who perform the surgeries on children, with an exception for procedures to correct medically verifiable disorders related sexual development.

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The Republican-controlled House voted 70-52 to pass the bill, which would ban hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery on children, while empowering the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts to revoke the medical license of any physician who breaks the law.

Following the House vote, the Senate immediately passed the measure 23-12.

It was the third time in recent weeks that Kansas lawmakers passed a bill to regulate transgender care, as actions to restrict LGBTQ access to healthcare are being considered in GOP-led legislatures across the country.

Ahead of the latest vote, the Kansas House and Senate voted Wednesday to override Gov. Laura Kelly's third veto and pass the Fairness in Women's Sports Act, which bans anyone assigned male at birth from competing in women's and girls' sports.

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Kelly, a Democrat, was widely expected to veto SB 26 after the measure fell short of receiving overwhelming majority support in the House.

Also this week, the Legislature passed a bill that would ban transgender people and those who identify as non-binary from using individual public spaces, like restrooms, when placards on the door don't match their sex at birth.

Opponents of SB 26 argue it's too intrusive, with the government imposing on medical privacy at the expense of young people.

Voices in the transgender community also said the proposed restrictions would put children at risk as they seek care on the black market. The bill's supporters argue it protects children by stopping them from making adult decisions that they may later regret.

Republican advocates vowed to override the governor's veto.

"It's up to the Kansas Legislature to protect these kids," said Brittany Jones, a lobbyist for Kansas Family Voice. "We encourage Gov. Kelly to protect these kids. It's a reasonable approach to ensure these procedures are only stopped for children. We think the governor should sign it when it reaches her desk, but if she doesn't sign it, we hope the Legislature will stand ready to override that veto."

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The legislation, which contains several provisions to ban hormone therapy, targets a broad scope of medical procedures, including mastectomies, vasectomies and hysterectomies.

The bill also establishes a three-year statute of limitations for individuals to sue their doctors after they reach age 18.

Gender-affirming care is designed to help individuals transition from their gender at birth to the opposite sex.

Treatments can vary widely and could come in the form of hormone therapy and puberty suppression, which would ultimately change a person's physical appearance.

Throughout the U.S. health industry, gender reassignment surgery is widely considered medically unacceptable for children.

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