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Governor vetoes transgender bill, calls measure a ‘product of the cultural war’

by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette , Brianna Kwasnik, Rachel Herzog | April 6, 2021 at 8:27 a.m.
FILE - In this July 20, 2020 file photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson removes his mask before a briefing at the state capitol in Little Rock. Gov. Hutchinson on Monday, April 5, 2021 vetoed legislation that would have made his state the first to ban gender confirming treatments or surgery for transgender youth. (Staci Vandagriff/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP, File)

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Monday afternoon he vetoed a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

Hutchinson, a Republican, said he believed House Bill 1570 interfered with the relationship between doctors and patients.

The GOP-sponsored legislation prohibits health care providers from administering gender transition treatments, which can include surgery and hormone therapy, to people under 18.

Had Hutchinson signed the bill, Arkansas would have been the first state to enact such a measure.

“I was told this week that the nation is looking at Arkansas,” Hutchinson said to reporters at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock.

The governor referred to the bill as a “product of the cultural war in America” and said the measure is “overbroad, extreme and does not grandfather young people currently on hormone treatment.”

If the bill were to become law, he said, the state would be creating “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 added the bill would leave those people without care, and may lead them to look to the black market or go out of state to get the care they need.

Hutchinson’s veto can be overridden with a simple majority in both chambers.

Anticipating the general assembly will do so, he encouraged the body to come up with a more restrained approach to the bill, he said.

“We want to send a message of tolerance and diversity,” Hutchinson said.

When considering the bill, Hutchinson said he met with transgender youth and healthcare providers.

Immediately following the governor’s announcement, Family Council President Jerry Cox issued a statement calling for the state legislature to override the governor’s veto.

“Medical researchers do not know the long-term effects these procedures can have on kids. That is why many people equate them with experimenting on children,” he said in a release.

“The FDA has never approved puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for the purpose of gender transition.

“They are having children use these drugs in a way that the FDA never intended,” Cox said.

Proponents of the bill are expected to hold a news conference at the state Capitol in response to Hutchinson’s decision in response to the governor’s veto.


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