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House allows for similar bill limiting medical care for transgender minors
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House allows for similar bill limiting medical care for transgender minors

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On a party-line vote with Republican support and Democratic opposition, the House Rules Committee on Tuesday allowed for the revival of legislation to limit the medical care Montana transgender minors can receive.

Rep. John Fuller, R-Whitefish, sought a committee hearing for House Bill 427, which would would ban doctors for performing gender transition procedures on a minor to treat gender dysphoria or removing any non-diseased body part or tissue of a minor to treat gender dysphoria. It would also bar doctors from making referrals for such care.

The bill is called the Youth Health Protection Act, the same name as House Bill 113 brought by Fuller in January and defeated by the House on a 49-51 vote. A later motion to reconsider also went down 46-53.

A handful of House Republicans who voted for the bill on an initial second reading in January changed from yes to no on the final House vote, which led to its defeat.

That bill would have prohibited the same procedures and referrals, as well as originally certain medications, though that portion of the bill was later amended.

Fuller's second attempt was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. But House Minority Leader Kim Abbott, of Helena, objected during the House's floor session, citing a rule that prohibits bills that aim to do the same things as legislation the House has already disposed of.

Speaker of the House Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale, said he would have the House Rules Committee decide if Fuller's new bill could advance.

The rules committee convened immediately after the floor session.

Abbott told the committee the bill was similar to the one the House already defeated.

"The new version removes two treatments, but the rest of the bill is designed to accomplish the same purpose from my point of view," Abbott said. "From my perspective, these are clearly designed to accomplish the same purpose and it's the reason the rule exists is to not have to relitigate things that have been disposed of."

Rep. Barry Usher, a Republican who represents rural Yellowstone County, is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee that heard and advanced the first Fuller bill on a nearly party-line vote. He advocated for the new bill to get a hearing.

"The majority of the objections that I saw to the original bill were things that were just taken out of that bill," Usher said.

Chase Strangio, the deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU, said only a very small percentage of transgender youth get the type of surgical care targeted by the bill. 

The Associated Press reported Tuesday several other sates including Oklahoma, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Indiana, are considering measures like Montana's.

Another bill from Fuller, House Bill 112, would limit transgender females from playing on female high school and collegiate sports teams. That bill passed the House and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate.

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