PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A bill to prohibit gender-affirming care for transgender children in South Dakota is one step closer to Governor Kristi Noem’s desk.

House Bill 1080 seeks to prohibit the prescription of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and gender-affirming surgery for minors. Republican Representative Bethany Soye told the Senate Health and Human Services committee that, “we need to stand up for the vulnerable children in our state.”

The bill had the support of Senator Al Novstrup who sits on the committee. In his testimony in support of HB 1080, Novstrup referenced a 2011 law that required a pregnant woman to wait three days before making the decision to receive abortion care. He likened HB 1080 to that waiting period.

“Imagine being a 10-year-old, a 13-year-old or a 17-year-old in South Dakota and the adults in your life guide you to having your breasts removed or being chemically castrated,” Novstrup told the committee.

Also speaking in support of the bill was Chloe Cole, a detransitioned 18-year-old who travels the country speaking in support of similar legislation.

“My therapists and gender specialists failed to address several underlying circumstances and comorbidities that led to the onset of my gender dysphoria,” Cole said.

Cole told the committee that she has experienced complications due to her gender-affirming care and that her “quality of life is still being impacted to this day.”

Speaking against the bill was Sioux Falls mom Elizabeth Broekemeier who said her son is transgender.

“When my child was 11 years old, he had the courage to tell his dad and me that he was transgender. He was met with love, compassion, and acceptance,” Broekemeier said.

Broekemeier told lawmakers that she and her husband did “what any parent would do” and made an appointment with his doctor to provide gender affirming care for him.

“He listened last week to the testimony in the House Committee, where he was basically likened to a medical experiment from those that supported this bill,” Broekemeier said. “He’s experienced pain that I as a parent can’t carry for him. But I can help him on this journey.”

HB 1080 would strip parents of their rights to make medical decisions, Broekemeier continued.

“Ultimately, the message this bill sends should frighten all parents in South Dakota,” she told lawmakers. “The government has no place interfering with medical care for a child medical care that is life saving, and is supported by both parents and medical professionals.”

Soye told lawmakers that she’s heard from parents in South Dakota who have “gone through this and are very concerned about their children.” No parents, children or doctors from South Dakota spoke in support of the bill during Wednesday’s hearing.

The American Civil Liberties Union also spoke in opposition of HB 1080.

“Constitutionally, this discriminates against individuals based on sex discriminates against individuals based on transgender status, and it violates parents’ due process clause rights,” advocacy manager Samantha Chapman said. “It’s a huge government overreach into the patient provider relationship, which we know is very important, and we’ve heard from several medical providers already on this.”

Opponents of HB 1080 plan to protest across the state on Saturday with demonstrations scheduled in Brookings, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Vermillion.

Lawmakers question portions of bill

Following passionate testimony from both sides, lawmakers had the opportunity to ask questions of those who testified.

Republican Senator Michael Diedrich asked the medical professionals who testified to clarify whether puberty blockers are used temporarily to help medical teams determine appropriate treatment plans for patients.

Dr. Nicholas Torbert of Sioux Falls said that yes, puberty blockers, or puberty pausers as he calls them, are meant to be temporary and are reversible.

“So, we’ll use them for two years to give the child and their parents and their provider an appropriate time to be able to understand their condition, at which point, those puberty pauses are taken off. And there are no long-term side effects,” Torbert said.

Dr. Jeff Hansen, who spoke in support of the bill pushed back against Torbert’s testimony. Hansen, who is not a physician but a psychologist, said that from his understanding of conversations with Dr. Michael Laidlaw– who spoke in support of the bill last week– puberty blockers can have negative side effects.

“There are certain things that need to take place through puberty and if that says that process is interrupted, then the outcomes are uncertain,” Hansen said. “So, we don’t really know for certain how these long-term effects are going to play out.”

Cole, who is also not a physician, said that as someone who was on puberty blockers for a year, there are side effects. For her that included hot flashes and itching on her body.

Republican Senator Tim Reed said that they should have respect for the medical community and expressed concerns about the puberty blocker portion of the bill.

“I think that that’s a pause that doctors can use,” Reed told fellow committee members. “I do agree on basically two through five (sections in the bill). I understand that but I think puberty is– gives the doctors at least to give a little bit of a pause, and maybe help that individual and figure out how they should go forward.”

Reed was one of two lawmakers on the committee who voted no on HB 1080.

Diedrich, who expressed concerns over the puberty blockers portion, decided to vote yes.

“And the way I read that, I don’t know that it’s completely prohibited,” Diedrich said. “I don’t know about the statutory construction that was intended but they’re only prohibited to alter the appearance of or validate a minor’s perception of the minor sex it so that would be prohibited, you couldn’t use it in that procedure, either one of those procedures. I think that there’ll be a question as to– This is going to end up in court anyway.”

Republican Senator Sydney Davis also voted yes on the bill but said she was concerned about parental rights and the decisions parents can make for their children.

“And I think we need to be cautious of some of the precedents that we’re setting with that,” Davis said.

By a vote of 4-2, with one excused, HB 1080 will now move to the Senate floor where lawmakers will debate whether to advance the bill to the governor’s desk.