Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed a bill on April 5 that would have banned gender-affirming “procedures” for transgender youth, even with parental consent, in the state.
Hutchinson said at a news conference that the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act was “well-intended but off course” and called it a “government overreach” and “a product of the cultural war in America.”
“You are starting to let lawmakers interfere with healthcare and set a standard for legislation overriding healthcare. The state should not presume to jump into every ethical health decision,” Hutchinson told reporters.
“Government under a conservative philosophy should be restrained. This is an example where restraint is better than overbroad actions that interfere with important relationships in our society,” Hutchinson also said.
The bill would have prohibited doctors from providing puberty blockers, transition-related surgeries, and “cross-hormone” therapies to transgender youth.
LGBTQIA+ advocates and medical professionals protested against the bill because they feared it could significantly have negative impacts on transgender youth.
“This victory belongs to the thousands of Arkansans who spoke out against this discriminatory bill, especially the young people, parents, and pediatricians who never stopped fighting this anti-trans attack,” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arkansas stated.
The Trevor Project, a crisis intervention organization for LGBTQIA+ youth, hoped “this action sends a message to other lawmakers across the country considering similar bans on gender-affirming medical care, which would only work to endanger young trans lives,” Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs Sam Brinton said in a statement.
Arkansas would have become the first state to outlaw gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors if Hutchinson passed it, according to ACLU.
Hutchinson’s decision came after he signed a law last March 25 that banned transgender women and girls from participating in sports under their gender identity.
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