CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — It’s one of the most controversial bills to be debated in the West Virginia State Capitol in years. It would ban certain medical procedures and treatments for people under the age of 18.

During a public hearing on House Bill 2007, only two people spoke in favor of the bill, and 79 spoke against allowing the bill.

Outside the packed chamber, a small group protested. The bill would ban gender-confirmation surgeries, along with hormone therapies and medicines, for anyone under the age of 18 in West Virginia.

Critics say transgender youth have high suicide attempt rates, but bill supporters say they’re too young to make informed decisions.

“It protects children from long-lasting, basically surgeries, or irreversible surgeries and medications that make permanent changes to the child, that don’t provide any proven long-term medical, psychological or emotional benefits,” said Del. Geoff Foster (R-Putnam), the bill’s sponsor.

“This bill would ban medically necessary and lifesaving care that trans people need in this state,” said Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of Fairness West Virginia.

Others weighed in as well.

“By the time you are 18 years old, you’re an adult. You get to make your own decisions. But right now, our responsibility is to protect children from irreversible surgeries that can never be put back,” said Del. Mike Honaker, (R-Greenbrier).

“Transgender children already have an uphill climb. Most of them are bullied; most of them do not understand what is going on. And now, instead of being able to seek professional help, they are being told ‘no! Stay away!'” said Danielle Stewart, a transgender woman from Beckley, West Virginia.

There were two attempts to amend the bill to give more flexibility to those under the age of 18, but both amendments were defeated by a wide margin. Four other states have already banned the surgeries, and 18 more, including West Virginia, are considering it.

If the bill passes the house Friday, it goes to the Senate, and perhaps, eventually, to the Governor.

Critics are already promising a federal lawsuit if that happens.