HomePoliticsMaryland Senate passes legal protections for gender-affirming care

Maryland Senate passes legal protections for gender-affirming care

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – Gender-affirming treatment in Maryland would be protected from criminal and civil actions brought by other states under a measure approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 33-13 in favor of the measure, which would provide the same legal protections the state provides for abortions. It now goes to the House of Representatives, where a similar bill has been submitted.

The measure protects Maryland patients’ medical records from criminal, civil and administrative actions related to gender-affirming care if data is sought in investigations initiated in another state.

For example, a judge could not order someone in Maryland to give testimony or produce documents in a case involving prosecution or investigation in another state. Maryland passed a law last year to protect information related to abortion procedures, in response to other states that banned or restricted abortions.

“This legislation simply adds gender-affirming treatment to what is already in the law as legally protected health care, legally protected health care that we put into law last year to ensure that women who need an abortion can have privacy in their own medical records so that they are not transferred. out-of-state or accessible to out-of-state entities,” said Sen. Clarence Lamba Democrat who is a physician at Johns Hopkins.

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Republicans who opposed the bill argued that the measure would expand access to gender-affirming care to young people who might decide to undergo treatments that could have a permanent effect on them when they are at a vulnerable time in their lives. Sen. Justin Ready, a Republican from Carroll County, urged senators to “stop this sprint down this road.”

“Let’s take a moment, because people around the world are starting to question whether we’re addressing these issues right,” Ready said.

But Lam said protections are needed for adults coming to Maryland for treatment. He noted that Florida currently has a law limiting gender-affirming care for adults.

“So this bill is not just about minors or just about adults,” Lam said. “It concerns all patients who may need gender-affirming treatment.”

Lam also said the Maryland law does not change the need for parental consent for children.

“This does not change the way care is provided to minors,” Lam said.

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Under the legislation, gender-affirming care would mean any medically necessary treatment consistent with current clinical standards of care prescribed by a licensed health care provider for treatment related to a person’s gender identity.

Treatment includes hormone therapy, hormone and puberty blockers, hair modification for the purpose of changing secondary sexual characteristics and preparing the surgical site, as well as voice changes, voice therapy and voice lessons. It would also include surgical adjustments and laser treatment for gender-affirming treatment scars.

In June, Governor Wes Moore signed an executive order to protect people who receive or provide gender-affirming care in Maryland from attempts at legal or disciplinary action by other states. The legislation passed by the Senate would enact such protections into state law.

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