A bill that would have banned certain surgeries performed on intersex children under the age of 12 was withdrawn less than two days into the new January 2022 session.
Th bill, formerly known as SB 225 and SB 201, and authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)m would have postponed physicians and surgeons from performing genitalia modification procedures on intersex individuals below the age of 12. An exception would only be made if the surgery was required in events of a risk of immediate physical harm to the child in question. With the child being over 12 and having enough knowledge of their situation, they could participate in the decision on whether to have surgery or not.
Wiener has attempted to pass the bill since 2019. The closest it has come to passage was in 2020, when the bill reached the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee but was voted down 4-2. The next year, Wiener withdrew the bill due to lack of support and amendments to the bill that Wiener did not agree with.
For 3 years, we’ve worked to pass legislation to protect intersex babies from medically unnecessary genital surgeries.
Sadly, #SB225 continues to lack the votes in the Business & Professions Committee.
Despite this setback, I’m committed to this fight. https://t.co/CjM2mj3r5y
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) January 4, 2022
On Tuesday, Wiener withdrew the bill at it’s earliest point to-date because of a continued lack of support from committee members over the bill. However, he also made it clear that he is not giving up on the bill and would likely try it again in the future.
“For three years, we’ve worked to advance legislation, and it’s become apparent that we continue to lack the votes to pass a meaningful bill — one that actually protects intersex people — through committee,” said the Senator in a statement on Tuesday. “Pausing medically unnecessary genital surgeries until a child is old enough to participate in the decision isn’t a radical idea. Rather, it’s about basic human dignity. I’m not giving up, and I stand in solidarity with the intersex community in its fight for bodily autonomy, dignity and choice.”
Many familiar with the bill and other similar pieces of attempted legislation from across the country noted on Tuesday that Wiener’s bill has several issues that have caused many lawmakers, medical professionals, and others to question supporting it.
“It doesn’t surprise me that the bill still doesn’t have the support it needs,” said Anthony Kovic, a representative for physicians and health care workers in the Midwest who has helped oppose similar bills across the country, to the Globe on Tuesday. “My arguments from last year still stand. I do admire that the Senator is uncompromising in what he wants, but what he wants has turned off many people.”
“The age of 12 is problematic, as a lot of people still see that as too young to make a decision on a surgery that will change their life forever. The issue of gender and identity is becoming a larger and larger topic in the U.S., but this is not the kind of bill to address that. People have the right to choose where they fall in there. But surgery surrounding that is serious, and the bill blocks a lot of different surgeries and doesn’t take into account many others. It’s also still uncomfortably vague on many things, especially on the overall scope. It’s not hard to see why the bill has had so little support, even in a state like California.”
The bill is expected to return in some form at a later session.
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