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LMS President’s Message: April 2023

LMS President’s Message: April 2023, A Call to Action on Senate Bill 150, Gender Affirming Care: Support the Governor’s Veto
By Lee Dossett, MD

I originally wrote this column about 9 days ago as a call to action to contact state legislators to have them not override the Governor’s veto on SB 150.  Unfortunately earlier today, prior to being published, the Kentucky house and senate did ultimately vote to override today March 29th.  Despite that, I would still encourage you to contact your reps to voice your displeasure if they voted for this bill.  They need to know that physicians are active and pay attention to law that comes between them and their patients.

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In my inaugural newsletter this year I mentioned the importance of physician advocacy to our patients and our profession.  I revisited the topic last month to give a summary of our advocacy trip to Washington DC with AMA.  And while I won’t be writing about this topic every month, I feel compelled to raise the topic again and this time with a call to action.

As you may be aware, the Kentucky legislative session is coming to an end.  All bills that have passed have sent to the Governor’s desk for signature or veto.  One such bill is SB 150, which quickly passed on the last day of the session after incorporating language from other bills.  SB 150 ultimately includes a bad on all gender-affirming health care for trans kids and teenagers in Kentucky.  That would include surgery, hormone therapy, and puberty blockers.  Thankfully language that also restricted mental health services or counseling was removed prior to passage.  It does require patients on hormone therapy to be tapered from it or stopped immediately, which would have severe consequence for patients. 

Obviously this issue is somewhat controversial in the public, but I do not view this as a political issue, rather it is a professional one.  All major medical societies including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics support gender affirming care.  This is backed by extensive research into the health and wellbeing of these children, we know that gender affirming care saves lives.  Not every physician may be comfortable treating this population, but for those who do it is important that they be allowed to practice with the patient’s wellbeing as priority.  Unfortunately, SB 150 who put physicians at risk of losing their license for violating the law.  The KMA has repeatedly opposed this legislation as physician autonomy is not preserved.  The government should not be in the exam room dictating how we care for patients.

In debating whether to write about this topic, I was inspired by my 16-year-old daughter who is a junior in high school.  She has many friends in the LGBTQ+ community and has been compelled to help organize a walk out at her school in protest of the legislation and even traveled to the capitol to show strength in numbers with her community.  She showed me that we shouldn’t shy away from advocating what’s best for our patients.

And so, I will end with a call to action.  SB 150 has passed both houses and has been sent to Governor Beshear.  It is likely that he will veto this bill, but the house and senate have the numbers to override his veto and have the bill become law.  I would ask if you feel strongly about this to call your elected representatives and ask them not to vote to override the veto.  You can find your representatives by going to https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/findyourlegislator/findyourlegislator.html along with ways to contact them.