The Arkansas legislature has overridden Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of legislation that would prohibit “sex-reassignment” surgery or hormone treatments to minors afflicted with gender confusion, moving swiftly after the governor’s rejection of the law.
The bill specifically bars physicians from performing or referring for “gender transition procedures” on residents under age 18, as well as taxpayer dollars from being spent on such procedures for minors.
“Gender transition procedures” are defined as “any medical or surgical service” that seeks to “alter or remove physical or anatomical characteristics or features that are typical for the individual’s biological sex”; or “instill or create physiological or anatomical characteristics that resemble a sex different from the individual’s biological sex.”
The legislation encompasses “puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, or other mechanisms to promote the development of feminizing or masculinizing features in the opposite biological sex, or genital or nongenital gender reassignment surgery performed for the purpose of assisting an individual with a gender transition.”
Hutchinson vetoed the bill on Monday, calling it “overreach” that would “let lawmakers interfere with healthcare and set a standard for legislation overriding healthcare.” He also claimed that the ban could somehow “lead to significant harms from suicide to drug use to isolation.”
By Tuesday afternoon, however, both chambers of the Arkansas legislature had voted “overwhelmingly” to override Hutchinson’s veto, THV 11 reports.
“Arkansas’ passage of the SAFE Act today is a resounding victory for biological sanity and common sense,” Jon Schweppe of the American Principles Project responded in a press release. “As most Americans recognize, we should not be pressuring young children into undergoing highly experimental, life-altering procedures to ‘change’ their sex before they are even old enough to make most other major decisions. State lawmakers are right to slam the brakes on the ideologically driven campaign to push children into this risky pathway.”
“It is unfortunate that the law’s passage had to come over the veto of Gov. Hutchinson,” Schweppe continued. “While the governor claimed he was acting out of a conservative concern for restraining government, restraint is not always a good thing. The governor himself admitted that it was important for the state to act to protect life in preventing ideologically motivated doctors from performing abortions. The same principle obviously applies in this case as well, and we are grateful the legislature had the courage to act to protect the health and well-being of children.”
Hutchinson’s failed attempt to kill the new law follows South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem’s veto of legislation to keep biological males out of women’s athletic programs, which Noem had previously claimed she would sign. That state’s legislature failed to override her veto.