The Missouri Senate this week adjourned a day early for a scheduled spring break in disarray after a group of Democratic legislators spent days filibustering a bill that would ban gender-affirming health care for minors.
State Republican leadership made the decision to abruptly end the first half of the legislative session after hours of closed-door debate on the bill, the Springfield News-Leader reported.
Floor action had slowed to a crawl throughout Tuesday and Wednesday as the chamber’s 10 Democrats sought to reach a compromise with Republicans on the measure, which is only one of nine transgender health care-related bills under consideration this year.
The bill’s sponsor, Missouri Sen. Mike Moon (R) wrote on Twitter that the legislature had spent at least 10 hours over the two days debating the proposed legislation.
“To adjourn one day early Is unbelievable,” he wrote.
The two-day Democratic filibuster was led by state Sen. Greg Razer, Missouri’s only openly gay state senator.
“This is real life. We’re making medical decisions [for] kids this body doesn’t understand,” Razor said during Tuesday’s floor debate.
“The LGBT community has been a political wedge issue for decades,” Razer continued. “And in every example of how we’re used as a wedge issue, we lose battles at first, but not one time have we ever lost a war.”
Missouri’s Senate Bill 49, if passed, would prevent minors in the state from accessing puberty blockers, hormone therapy, surgery or other gender-affirming health care services — with some exceptions for intersex youth. The proposed law would also bar state funds, employees and facilities from being used to provide “gender transition services” to anyone younger than 18.
If passed, Missouri would join growing coalition of GOP-led states that have banned gender-affirming health care for minors, but even without legislative action, access could be in jeopardy.
Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) office last month said it would begin investigating the Washington University Pediatric Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital after a first-person account published in The Free Press alleged years of malpractice.
The report by Jamie Reed, a former case manager with the hospital’s transgender center, has been challenged by reporting from the St. Louis Dispatch. Nearly two dozen parents of children seen at the clinic told the outlet that Reed’s allegations are “just not true.”
On the same day Hawley announced his investigation, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) confirmed that a multi-agency investigation into St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s transgender center had begun in January, when Reed provided his office with a sworn affidavit about her time working at the hospital.
Razer on Tuesday said there’s a high probability that the state’s GOP-controlled Senate will pass a version of the bill to ban gender-affirming health care for minors when the body meets again on March 20.
“To my trans community, I don’t know what’s going to happen this year or with these bills, but we know the playbook, and we’re gonna win this war, too,” he said. “We may lose this battle, but we know we’re gonna win the war. We’re gonna be okay.”