By Faye Seidler
The Theme of the 2023 ND Legislative Session
In the North Dakota 2021 Special Session, Representative Bill Tviet introduced House Bill 1514, otherwise known as the Ivermectin Bill.In testimony he describes the helplessness he felt in a hospital while his wife was struggling with Covid and painted a picture of the need for medical autonomy to try what he personally felt was effective. He demanded the government overrule medical bodies and allow Ivermectin.
In 2023, we have position statements from multiple national health organizations that Ivermectin is not an effective medication for Covid-19 and the misinformation around it has in some cases been deadly. This year we also saw Representative Tviet, a cisgender man, returning withHouse Bill 1254 to ban medical care for transgender youth.
For almost every reason he advocates for the use of Ivermectin, he is now advocating against medical care for trans minors. Rep. Tviet opens his testimony with an honest reflection of his qualifications:
“As a disclaimer, I AM NOT a healthcare professional. I AM NOT a psychologist. I AM Not an expert.”
He goes on to say he is introducing this bill as a grandpa and concerned for the future of youth. What played out over the next three months was countless hours of work by licensed medical professionals with decades of experience testifying to the harm this bill would have and over 200 medical professionals signing a letter condemning the bill. HB 1254 went against the consensus of every major medical organization for treatment guidelines.
Honest attempts were made to amend the bill by North Dakota’s Hospital Association (NDHA) in such a way to satisfy the fears of lawmakers, while keeping best practices untouched. Instead of following this direction, Senator Kristin Roers, a cisgender woman, effectively created her own medical guidelines for treating trans youth as she did not personally like NDHA’s recommendations. As a nurse, she went against the American Nursing Association position that strongly opposed any medical restrictions to trans care. Ultimately, the House and Senate voted in favor of government interference between patients and doctors.
The WPATH standards that are currently recommended as the best practices for trans care took five years to create, by medical experts, compared to the 43 days this legislative session took from start to finish to override those medical guidelines from largely non-medical lawmakers.
There was medical testimony in favor of these bans from organizations such as Do No Harm orThe American Academy of Medical Ethics. Both organization’s websites do offer links to donate and appear to cater specifically to conservative values within medicine. American College of Pediatrics is often quoted to justify removing gender affirming care, but has a history of misrepresenting data and has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Total membership of the national organizations against trans care mentioned here is likely less than a thousand individuals and it’s unclear how many are doctors within those organizations. Conversely, The American Academy of Pediatrics, which supports trans inclusive care, represents 67,000 doctors.
Taken together, if North Dakota lawmakers are able to practice medicine by approving Ivermectin or denying gender-affirming care, contrary to medical organization’s recommendations, then there is no stopping our lawmakers from approving or denying any treatment they see fit. Regardless of feelings on trans medicine, that level of government overreach is scary to think about.
At time of writing, trans medical care has not yet been banned in North Dakota. It however shares commonality with many different bills this session that also attempt to undermine our public sectors of education and healthcare with government interference. Many of these bills are as egregious as ones that would attempt to shut down private schools, eradicate religious freedom, or forcibly mandate vaccines.
I believe that the government at its core should be about protecting liberty, not dictating lawmakers’ personal values to every citizen. There is little more to do this session to impact these bills, but if the direction of our legislature has caused concern our next election cycle is an opportunity to make it better.
I recommend following the nonpartisan League of Women Voters to stay up-to-date on all election issues. I don’t care about the party of the people we elect, I care that they value North Dakota and all people making their life here. I care that they can put their feelings at the door and listen to our experts.
I don’t want people who are just here to build their resumes for national politics or make us all live under one decree. I want a North Dakota where the Catholic Conference and its members can live their best life, but trans kids can be safe to live theirs too.
Professional Consultant: www.fayeseidlerconsulting.com
Community Uplift Program Manager: Harbor Health Initiative
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