In advance of the bill’s passing, the pediatric care provider, part of the University of Oklahoma health system OU Health, said it would stop its Roy G. Biv services so it could receive funding for a new mental health facility.
On October 4, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 3. The law blocks American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding from being used for permanent gender transition treatments for minors at OU medical facilities.
The new law provides, among other things, $39.4 million in ARPA funding for the mental health hospital, on the condition OU Health does not provide gender reassignment surgeries, puberty blockers, or “gender-affirming” hormone therapy for minors.
Power of the Purse
“I worked on this bill from the beginning because of my long career as a licensed psychologist who has worked in schools for years,” state Rep. Randy Randleman (R-Eufaula) told Health Care News.
While developing the bill, Randleman and his colleagues discovered the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital was providing gender reassignment services through the Roy G. Biv program.
“I was concerned about funding being potentially used for this program, as I and many of my constituents believe these irreversible medical procedures can do irreparable mental and physical damage to children and teens,” said Randleman.
“These are not simple cosmetic procedures that can be easily reversed in a few years,” said Randleman. “These surgeries are permanent, and there is no way to undo the damage done if someone regrets their decision.”
Call for Ban
S.B. 3 addressed only the ARPA funds. Stitt has called on the state legislature to ban “irreversible gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies on minors” when lawmakers reconvene in 2023.
“Last week’s session was called specifically to address federal ARPA funds, so Senate Bill 3 was the only way we could address this deeply concerning issue constitutionally,” said Randleman. “I think one thing some legislators were concerned about was that there was nothing in Senate Bill 3 that would prevent another hospital in the state from beginning a similar program.”
The new law is only the beginning of the discussion, says Randleman.
“I know many of my colleagues in the legislature are interested in pursuing a more extensive end to these surgeries on children in the state, so I have no doubt that this conversation will continue throughout the interim and into our regular session in February,” said Randleman.
Harry Painter (email@example.com) writes from Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma SB3: University Hospitals Authority; making an appropriation. Emergency.” TrackBill, accessed October 5, 2022: https://trackbill.com/bill/oklahoma-senate-bill-3-university-hospitals-authority-making-an-appropriation-emergency/2263380/