May 06, 2019
Not every court gets away with rewriting the law! In Iowa, legislators had one final message for the state's Supreme Court before they closed out the 2019 session: leave the lawmaking to us. Two months after all seven justices put taxpayers on the hook for gender reassignment surgery, the state House and Senate had the last word -- "No."
It took a rare working weekend to close out Iowa's biggest business, but leaders finally put a bow on one of the most expensive bills of the year: the $2 billion health budget. The hours leading up to the vote were frantic ones, but conservatives managed to beat the clock with two provisions that infuriated liberal extremists. For starters, Republicans took an ax to a good chunk of Planned Parenthood's funding. With one quick move, state leaders decided that abortion providers shouldn't be eligible for the state's sex-ed funding. Our friends at The Family Leader agreed, insisting it was time to give the $260,000 to groups that steered kids in the right direction. "As we suggested to the legislators, that could have a conflict of interest. Their customers are pregnant girls. They make money off of abortion..."
The other move, the one that seems to be generating the most attention, is the very public rebuke of the court's transgender ruling in early March. Two months ago, the justices decided -- unanimously -- that Iowa couldn't refuse two people's gender reassignment surgeries under Medicaid. As far as the court was concerned, the state's Civil Rights Act mandates that taxpayers fork over money for the controversial procedures. Hours before the session drew to a close, Senator Mark Costello (R) added language to roll back the ruling, restoring the Iowa code "to the way it was for years before the lawsuit." After all, he argued, these surgeries are "not a proper use of state monies."
The two chambers agreed -- amending the bill and sending it straight to Governor Kim Reynolds's (R) desk. Despite the pressure from outside groups, Reynolds didn't blink. She signed the bill into law to the cheers of pro-lifers and conservatives everywhere. Liberals, meanwhile, were incensed -- especially because the governor had the power to strike the provisions and refused. "We are deeply disappointed [in] Gov. Reynolds..." said the director of one of the state's LGBT activist groups. "She could have line-item vetoed the cruel and outdated language that enshrines discrimination in Iowa law without disrupting HHS services but chose not to. In doing so, she's tarnished Iowa's reputation as a state that stands for fairness and equality."
Hardly, The Family Leader's Drew Zahn fired back. "Taxpayers should not be compelled to fund potentially harmful procedures that seek treatment options outside of God's design." The governor's office insisted that all she was doing was bringing back the status quo. "This narrow provision simply clarifies that Iowa's Civil Rights Act does not require taxpayer dollars to pay for sex reassignment and other similar surgeries. This returns us to what had been the state's position for years," spokesman Pat Garrett said.
Based on the media's hysteria, you'd think that the governor had banned transgender surgery altogether! She didn't. All she's done is drawn the line at taxpayer funding. And contrary to what these activists would have you believe, that may be the most compassionate response of all. There's absolutely no proof that this "treatment" makes anyone happier. Even after having the surgery they seek, the suicide rate of people who identify as transgender is 19 times higher than the general population in places like Sweden. No wonder experts like Dr. Miroslav Djordjevic, who specializes in this kind of surgery, are starting to warn about the repercussions of steering patients into this kind of life-altering decision.
Over the last five years, Dr. Djordjevic says he's been overwhelmed by the number of people who've approached him about reversing their procedure. The surgery that they thought would bring them the satisfaction they were looking for only plunged them into deeper despair. A growing number of them, he tells Canada's National Post, were miserable. More and more people have made appointments to undo a procedure that's not only excruciatingly painful -- but expensive. "They came from countries all over the Western world, Britain included, united by an acute sense of regret." They told him about "crippling levels of depression" with intense suicidal thoughts. "It can be a real disaster to hear these stories," he says. "And yet," the doctor points out, "they are not being heard."
What people need more than anything is the help that too many states want to deny them: the advice and comfort of a qualified therapist. LGBT activists want you to believe that the humane response is encouraging and affirming these feelings. But affirming dangerous and destructive ideas is not compassion. Real compassion is helping people find their way to freedom and fulfillment that comes from knowing the truth, especially when they don't want to hear the truth.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.