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Home International Republican Gov. of Arkansas vetoes anti-trans health bill despite conservative protests

Republican Gov. of Arkansas vetoes anti-trans health bill despite conservative protests

By Hailey Ruane
Staff Writer

On March 29, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) vetoed the newly proposed Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act (SAFE) or HB 1570. According to NPR, this act would make Arkansas “the first to ban gender-affirming medical care, including surgery, for transgender minors, even with parental consent.” 

The bill would strictly deny transgender youth of medical procedures in relation to transition (Envato Elements).

HB 1570 would no longer allow transgender minors to undergo medical procedures in order to begin their transition. A CNN writer stated “We know that transgender youth face disproportionately higher rates of depression, suicide and violence than their cisgender peers due to familial and societal rejection and discrimination. That number only goes up when we further marginalize community members and deny access to medically necessary care.”

Gov. Hutchinson vetoed the proposed bill, which came as a surprise to many, as he has passed multiple anti-trans legislation in the past, including a bill that prevents transgender girls from playing in girls’ athletics. According to NPR, other bills include, “a bill that discourages school courses from mentioning LGBT people and allowing parents to opt out of classes with such mentions.” 

“In previous sessions, he signed a bill allowing legal discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community on ‘religious’ grounds. He also allowed a bill to become law that prevents cities like Fayetteville, Ark., home to the University of Arkansas, from adopting an ordinance protecting LGBTQ+ people.”

CNN reports that Hutchinson claims that his reasoning behind vetoing the bill was that it would be “a vast government overreach” and because it would’ve 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.” Hutchinson also stated that, although he agrees with the bill and its intentions, he believes that the bill “a product of the cultural war in America.” 

Even with Hutchinson’s veto, the General Assembly overrode it, which will allow the bill to become law. After the General Assembly’s decision, more people have voiced their opinions, with KNWA reporting that Family Council President Jerry Fox claimed, “This is really good news. Gender-reassignment surgeries can leave children sterilized and scarred for life. Medical researchers do not know the long term effects these procedures and therapies can have on kids. That is why many people equate them with experimenting on children. This good legislation will protect Arkansas’ children from sex-reassignment procedures.” 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) plans on filing a lawsuit and bringing the topic to court. Holly Dickson, the Executive Director of the ACLU, told KNWA, “No matter what these politicians do or say, one thing has not changed: trans youth are loved, they are seen, and we will never stop fighting to defend their dignity, their rights and their lives. To everyone who spoke out against this bill: now is the time to stay loud, not only for trans lives, but for all the fundamental rights that politicians are hellbent on attacking.”

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