HB 648 Veto Override: A Test of “Liberal” Values
In political conversations, people are often labeled as being either a liberal or a conservative. Such labels are often attached based on an individual’s view on only one issue. Like Abortion. Pro-Choice positions are generally considered liberal, and Pro-Lifers conservative. While I consider myself a conservative liberal, this self-attributed tag is based on a wide range of political, economic, and social issues. Never just one issue or problem to be solved. In this case, I’ll be analyzing the gender change laws of Louisiana.
The issues debated in Louisiana House Bill 648 had my personal views, and to a lesser degree my religious beliefs, in serios turmoil. HB 648 proposed to prevent parents of minor children and their medical professionals from altering the sex characteristics of those minors. Collectively they are called “gender-affirming” treatments. Of the multitude of restrictions listed in the proposed legislation, the law disallows elective procedures like phalloplasty (creation of a penis-like structure) and vaginoplasty, which I’m sure by now needs no definition. Another noteworthy no-no is the prescription of drugs used to suppress or delay normal puberty.
Analyzing the Gender Change Laws
In reading up on the proposed legislation and listening to television reports, I realized how naïve and ignorant I was of medical technology and the possible outcomes that are sought, apparently, by some parents of minor children. My 62-year-old brain not only grapples with the mere availability of these procedures. I am surprised well as the fact that there is a certain level of demand. But, after all, this is the United States of America, which in its constitution promotes liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
What’s happening outside of the U.S? In South Africa, the demand for such services and dearth of qualified surgeons to perform them can have potential patients waiting for upwards of 25 years! The prohibitive costs exacerbate wait times as well. In 2022 Swedish officials put serious restrictions on hormone therapy for minors, as well as mastectomies for teenage girls. An interesting 2021 appellate court case heard in the United Kingdom illustrates the irreversible effect on minors. Eight years after a then 16-year-old female sought and received puberty blocking drugs, she regretted the treatments. Then she sought to hold the medical providers financially responsible for her change of heart.
Analyzing the Gender Change Laws
Back to our beloved and accurately conservative labeled Louisiana and HB 648. Governor Jon Bell Edwards had vetoed the legislation. In effect his veto would have allowed these gender-affirming measures to be conducted on minors. His argument was extremely low demand for such services makes legislation preventing it completely unnecessary. On July 18, both the House and Senate chambers overturned his veto. So, beginning January 1, 2024, these treatments and procedures will not be prescribed or performed on minors in Louisiana.
Though Edwards and I are both Catholic, I side with the override voters here. As it relates to minors, permanent elective, non-life-threatening medical choices like this are best deferred until at least until the age of majority. Perhaps even till the age of 26 when those individuals are responsible for obtaining and maintaining their own health insurance. But that doesn’t make me a conservative.