CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — A bill to ban gender-affirming treatment and care for minors passed the West Virginia State Senate with amendments on Friday on a 30-2 vote, with two absent. The bill now heads back to the House.
The no votes are from Sens. Mike Caputo (D-Marion) and Robert Plymale (D-Wayne; Senate Minority Whip). The two absent are Sens. Glenn Jeffries (R-Putnam) and Robert Karnes (R-Randolph).
One amendment from Sen. Tom Takubo (R-Kanawha; Senate Majority Leader) would allow minors to receive gender-affirming medication if they have been diagnosed by two or more medical or mental health providers with at least one being a mental health provider and both having relevant training in gender dysphoria in adolescents. The amendment passed 20-12, with two absent.
When discussing this amendment, Sen. Mike Maroney (R-Marshall) said it is “unbelievable” to tell others how to practice medicine.
“We’re pro-life – overwhelmingly – in this Caucus. These kids commit suicide, these 30 kids. There will be some suicides,” Sen. Maroney said. “Who are we – to win an election – and start telling people who to practice medicine; to change treatments? It’s unbelievable. I appreciate the Senator’s amendment. It’s going to help some people, it’s going to help some people who need help.”
On the other side, Sen. Mike Azinger (R-Wood) called it “dangerous” and “wrong.”
“A self-evident truth planted on the heart of man would tell mankind – by nature – that surgeries to change the sex or the attempt to change the sex would be self-evidently a fist in the face of the creator,” Sen. Azinger said. “But I would make the argument that also – Mr. President – that it is self-evident that when you block the natural course of a young person, that we commonly call puberty by using puberty blockers, that is self-evidently wrong… that is self-evidently dangerous.”
The next amendment – proposed by Sen. Patricia Rucker (R-Jefferson) – would make any licensed medical practitioner required to report any prescribing of gender-affirming medication to the Bureau of Vital Statistics without anything being used to identify the patient. It was found to be unfit for the bill.
Another amendment from Sen. Maroney would put certain provisions in sections to become effective on Jan. 1, 2024. This was passed by a voice vote on the Senate Floor.
This bill has been one of the most controversial bills to be debated in the West Virginia State Capitol in years.
Critics say transgender youth have high suicide attempt rates, but bill supporters say they’re too young to make informed decisions.
In February, there were two attempts to amend the bill to give more flexibility to those under the age of 18, but both amendments were defeated by a wide margin.