Arkansas Governor Vetoes Bill That Would Ban Doctors From Providing Certain Healthcare To Transgender Youth
Governor Asa Hutchinson has vetoed a controversial bill that would have made Arkansas the first state to ban doctors from providing certain types of healthcare to young transgender people.
House Bill 1570 came as part of a wave of legislation that Republicans have introduced this year with regards to transgender issues; it prevents doctors from providing gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones or surgery to people under the age of 18.
Futhermore, it opens healthcare providers up to lawsuits from patients who later regret their procedures and threatens to revoke the medical licenses of those who violate the law.
Dubbed the Arkansas Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, the bill passed the state Senate last month by a vote of 28-7 but was vetoed on Monday, April 5, when Hutchinson argued that passing it ‘would be and is a vast government overreach’.
Speaking to reporters, per Reuters, he said: ‘The state should not presume to jump in to the middle of every medical, human and ethical issue.’
Hutchinson said the bill was ‘well-intended’, but described it as ‘a product of the cultural war in America’ that would have created ‘new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people,’ CNN reports.
The governor’s decision could be overridden by a simple majority vote in the Arkansas Senate and House; both of which previously passed the bill with sizeable majorities.
Hutchinson has predicted that his veto will likely be overridden, but expressed hopes his action would ’cause conservative Republican legislators to think through the issue again and hopefully come up with a more restrained approach that allows a thoughtful study of the science and ethics surrounding the issue before acting.’
Supporters of the legislation proposed by Republicans say they want to prevent children from undergoing medical procedures they may later come to regret. They also accuse trans advocates of minimising the side effects of treatment and cases where transgender people reverse their decision to transition.
Critics, on the other hand, have argued proposals are unconstitutional and defy the best medical stereotypes, relying instead on outdated stereotypes.
Holly Dickson, director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Arkansas, commented: ‘This veto 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.’
Experts have pointed out that the transition process is undertaken over months, if not years, and takes place with the consultation of doctors, therapists and social workers.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open 8pm–midnight Mondays and Fridays and is run by trans volunteers.
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