TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Child custody may become a political football in Florida after a state lawmaker filed legislation that would allow courts to remove a child from a parents’ care if they are believed to be facilitating or “subjecting” a child to have sex-reassignment treatments or surgeries.
Sens. Clay Yarborough (R-Nassau) and Keith Perry (R-Marion) filed Senate Bill 254, which gives courts temporary emergency jurisdiction over children who are “at risk of or are being subjected to the provision of sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures.”
According to SB 254, sex-reassignment treatments or procedures would be considered “serious physical harm.”
The bill, as written, states that allowing children to undergo these types of medical procedures or treatments is “unjustifiable conduct.”
“A court may not treat a parent′s removal of a child from another parent or from another state as unjustifiable conduct or child abuse if the removal was for the purpose of protecting the child from one or more of the prescriptions or procedures referenced,” the bill adds.
Under the bill, courts would have the power to vacate, stay, or modify child custody agreements in Florida and in other states, to “protect the child from the risk of being subjected to the provision of sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures.”
Similar to another bill, SB 254 also prohibits health insurance companies that work with state, county, or municipal government entities from paying for or reimbursing treatments for sex-reassignment.
Additionally, the bill requires that facilities that provide care to those agencies or government entities not offer or provide sex-reassignment procedures or prescriptions to anyone under 18, with an exemption for a yet-to-be passed statute focused on defining what lawmakers call gender clinical interventions.
The bill would also prevent those facilities from referring patients to facilities that offer those services, and makes it so licensed facilities must attest to these regulations being enforced or risk losing their operating certifications in Florida.
SB 254 goes further, defining “sex” for legal and classification reasons as “either male or female based on the organization of the human body of such person for a specific reproductive role, as indicated by the person’s sex chromosomes, naturally occurring sex hormones, and internal and external genitalia present at birth.”
The bill states that any medical procedure or prescription which affirms a “person’s perception of his or her sex if that perception is inconsistent with” their gender at birth would qualify for the purpose of defining “sex-reassignment.” Like House Bill 1421, the bill requires that physicians must obtain informed written consent from patients every time they provide gender clinical interventions for an adult, sign the consent, ad keep a copy on record.
Patients would also have to sign the informed consent form and acknowledge that their doctor has explained it to them sufficiently. The information must include long and short-term effects of gender clinical interventions and the impacts of gender clinical interventions on physical and mental health.
The proposed legislation also makes it so staff at a hospital or physician’s office where gender clinical interventions are authorized, performed, or provided may object to assisting or providing said treatments under clinical, moral, or religious grounds, and may not be required to participate.
The process of informed consent must be undertaken individually for each new procedure, treatment, or pharmaceutical prescription given to a patient.
Violation of the proposal includes the possibility of losing certification and licensing for care providers in Florida.
By July 1, medical facilities and offices registered with the state of Florida, and as defined for the purpose of the bill, must provide the attestations that they do to the Florida Department of Health that they do no offer or provide sex-reassignment procedures or prescriptions to minors unless authorized by a narrow set of circumstances to include:
- External biological sex characteristics that are unresolvedly ambiguous
- Sexual development disorders where a physician determines, through genetic or biochemical testing, that the minor does not have normal sex chromosome structure, sex steroid hormone production, or sex steroid hormone action for a male or female
- Treatment of infection, injury, disease, or disorder caused or exacerbated by performance of gender clinical interventions, regardless of whether the treatments were undertaken in accordance with state or federal law
In terms of enforcement, it’s unclear what mechanism could be used to ensure compliance. There are no laws that require states to abide by another’s laws.
The U.S. Constitution’s Article IV, Section 1: Full Faith and Credit, handles some of this interplay. While federal law preempts state or local rules, when considering a legal conflict between one state’s laws and another’s, there is no mechanism for compliance. If the states’ laws conflict with each other, it becomes a matter of federal jurisdiction for a court to decide what happens.
If passed, the bill would be enacted immediately upon being signed into law.