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Bill to outlaw gender-affirming surgery for minors fails in Senate committee

A bill that would’ve outlawed gender-affirming surgery for transgender minors failed to pass out of the Senate Health Committee.

Senate Bill 1138 would have prevented doctors from providing “gender transition procedures” to anyone under the age of 18. The measure is part of a  wave of legislation across the country targeting transgender youth.

Republican Sen. Warren Petersen argued minors are too young to decide whether or not to have the procedure.

“I’ve had surgery done before. Once you're cut, you’re never the same. So it’s hard to — we’re talking about irreversible decisions here,” he said.

LGBTQ advocates, including 13-year-old Skyler Morrison, begged the committee not to pass the bill. Morrison’s mother, Chelsea, described the hearing as “state-sanctioned bullying.”

“It is not up to you to decide medical care for my child or anybody else’s child,” she said.

The bill failed on a 4-4 vote, with Mesa Republican Sen. Tyler Pace and all three Democrats on the committee opposed. Pace said he was concerned the Legislature was overstepping its bounds.

“How often we meddle with the health industry, we meddle with the physician's role. I did not go to med school. My brother did, my father did. I did not go to nursing school. Half my family did. They are the experts in that industry,” Pace said.

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Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.