TRENTON – Minors in New Jersey would be prohibited from receiving irreversible treatments and surgeries that would change their sex, prevent or delay puberty or result in sterilization, under a bill proposed Thursday by state Sen. Edward Durr.

Republican says proposal would protect children

Durr, R-Gloucester, said such procedures are “nothing short of child abuse” and that the “Child Protection and Anti-Mutilation Act” would apply in connection with people under the age of 18 years.

“Children do not have the maturity to make life-changing medical decisions that cannot be reversed,” Durr said.

“We cannot discount the fact that 10-, 11-, and 12-year-old children are extremely impressionable and can be influenced by adults who may push them to make choices they cannot fully comprehend,” he said. “We can protect children from unnecessary and permanent harm by delaying these important decisions until they are adults.”

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File photo/Townsquare Media photo illustration
File photo/Townsquare Media photo illustration
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What the proposed bill would prohibit

Unless undertaken to treat a minor with a medically verifiable disorder of sex development, the bill would prohibit anyone from:

  • Prescribing or administering puberty-blocking medication or ‘supraphysiologic’ doses of testosterone to females or estrogen to males
  • Performing surgeries such as castration, vasectomy, hysterectomy and others
  • Performing surgeries that artificially construct tissue with the appearance of genitalia that differs from the individual’s sex
  • Removing any healthy or non-diseased body part or tissue, except in the case of a male circumcision
  • Violations would be a third-degree crime, punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

“It’s nothing short of child abuse to allow minors, including pre-pubescent kids, to undergo life-changing, medically unnecessary treatments and surgeries when they are unable to fully understand the inescapable consequences of these actions,” Durr said.

“It’s absolutely obscene that we’re letting kids agree to mutilating surgeries that can never be undone,” he said. “No adult should ever look back wondering how they were allowed to make such monumental decisions as a child that they now regret.”

Does this proposal stand a chance of passing?

Though the bill has been proposed, it seems unlikely to be taken up by the Legislature.

Durr has been the lead sponsor of 100 bills and resolutions in his first half-year in the Senate, but none have gotten a committee approval yet.

Two pieces of legislation on which he is the second-prime sponsor, paired with a Democratic lawmaker as lead sponsor, have gotten endorsed by one committee but not the full Senate.

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Durr was the surprise winner of the 3rd District Senate seat last year, toppling powerful Senate President Stephen Sweeney despite a sparsely funded campaign. He is up for re-election next year; it’s not clear if Sweeney will try to recapture the seat he had held since 2002.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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