Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson (R.) vetoed a bill banning gender reassignment practices for individuals under the age of 18.
The law, titled the “Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act,” would have prohibited doctors in the state from performing gender reassignment surgeries on minors who are attempting or considering transitioning genders. The law also banned access to reversible puberty blockers and hormones. Prior to the veto, Arkansas was poised to be the first state to ban these practices for minors.
Hutchinson described the bill as a “product of the cultural war in America” and criticized it for being a “vast government overreach” of power. The ACLU described it as “the single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature.”
Hutchinson’s veto is the latest in a line of state battles over legislation regulating medical treatment for transgender individuals. The Arkansas state government also enacted a law banning transgender women from participating in sports that do not correspond with their biological sex.
The state legislature passed the law with large majorities in the state House and Senate, making an override of Hutchinson’s veto likely. The bill passed the Senate by a 28-7 margin and the House by 70-22 in March.
South Dakota governor Kristi Noem (R.) declined to sign a bill preventing transgender athletes from participating in team sports that do not align with their sex after signaling her support for it. After her veto, however, Noem issued two executive orders limiting participation in female sports to biological females. She said that she will push the state legislature to revisit the issue.
Hutchinson’s veto comes weeks after he signed into law a bill significantly restricting abortion access in the state. In an interview after the bill was signed, Hutchinson said the law is designed to be a “direct challenge” to Roe v. Wade.
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