Some depressing news out of the Mount Rushmore State this week. State legislators there had been working on new legislation designed to protect children who are gender-confused from having invasive “gender correcting” medical procedures performed on them with the permission of their parents. These include hormone therapy unnatural to their growing bodies, puberty blockers, and even surgery. The legislation had already passed in the House, but a state senate committee somehow decided to kill the bill before it could even make it to a floor vote. (Associated Press)

Legislation aimed at stopping South Dakota physicians from providing puberty blockers and gender confirmation surgery to transgender children under 16 failed to get enough support Monday in a Senate committee.

A Republican-dominated Senate committee voted 5-2 to kill the proposal, likely ensuring the issue won’t be considered by the Legislature again this year.

Proponents already had amended the bill to get rid of criminal charges for doctors who provide gender confirmation treatments, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery. But it would have allowed children to sue if they later regretted the treatments.

This is, as I said, a depressing turn of events. As the AP article notes, while there are similar pieces of legislation being considered in at least ten other states, South Dakota had been considered one of the states both conservative and sensible enough to put such a law in place and create a template for the rest of the country. Committee members offered little by way of explanation other than to say they were “unsure if the legislature should be delving into the issue.”

While I appreciate and applaud examples of small-government conservatism and restraint in the private affairs of citizens, that hardly seems to be the case here. States regularly pass laws regulating medical treatment and practices and their vested interest in keeping children who may have fallen under destructive influences should have made this a doubly compelling argument in favor of passage.

This is particularly true in the rapidly growing number of cases we’ve been seeing of rapid onset or socialized gender dysphoria, where children are likely being influenced by their peers or even their parents into thought patterns that never would have cropped up otherwise. This is turning into a tragic epidemic that’s being spread on social media and liberal news sites.

The fundamental rule in medical science is First Do No Harm. How people are finding doctors willing to inject unnatural hormones into otherwise physically healthy children, block the natural onset of puberty or even mutilate them through irreversible surgery is a mystery. There is clearly room for government oversight of and restrictions on these practices. The fact that the majority in South Dakota couldn’t find a path through this minefield is beyond depressing.