FORT SMITH, Ark. – Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has vetoed a bill that would ban gender reassignment surgeries and hormone supplements for anyone under 18 in the state.
Labeled the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act, the bill, which did not have a provision for youth who are currently transitioning, passed the Arkansas Senate by a vote of 28-7 March 29 and a house vote of 70-22 March 10.
“The bill is overbroad, extreme, and does not grandfather those who are under hormone treatment,” said Hutchinson, adding that he believes the bill is legislative interference with medical care in the state.
Hutchinson anticipates the Arkansas Legislature may override his veto on House Bill 1570 before the session is over.
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The American Medical Association, American Psychological Association and American Academy of Pediatrics publicly opposed the bill. The American Civil Liberties Union called the bill’s restrictions on gender reassignment unprecedented in the United States.
ACLU spokespeople said they planned to take legal action against the legislation if it was passed into law.
The bill stated the risks of gender transition procedures “far outweigh any benefit at this stage of clinical study” and lists risks of taking hormone supplements including blood clots and cancer.
In his reasoning for the legislation, state Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, cited an American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry study that states 90% of young adults who experienced gender dysphoria eventually identified how they were assigned at birth. Clark was the primary senate sponsor of the bill.
Before speaking on behalf of the legislation on March 29, Clark said his heart goes out to youth who are experiencing gender dysphoria and their families. He also encouraged trans youth and their families to seek counseling, which is not prohibited in the bill.
Opponents of the bill argued access to medical care lowers suicide rates among trans people. Some believed the legislation contradicts President Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 executive order meant to combat discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
The bill was the latest measure targeting transgender people that easily advanced in the Arkansas Legislature and other states this year. Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee’s governors have signed laws banning transgender girls and women from competing on school sports teams consistent with the gender identity.
Hutchinson recently signed a measure allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone because of moral or religious objections, a law that opponents have said could be used to turn away LGBTQ patients.
Contributing: Andrew DeMillo, Associated Press
Follow reporter Max Bryan on Twitter: @MBryanTimesRec
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