Governor Hutchinson today announced he had vetoed HB 1570 to prohibit medical services to transgender minors.
He noted that many have said the bill was a product of a culture war. He said it was well-intended, but misguided, letting the state override patients, parents and health care experts.
The state should not presume to jump into very medical and human issue. This is a vast government overreach, he said.
Nonetheless, he said he expected the legislature to override his veto.
It would be the first state legislation of its kind in the country if the legislature overrides. It is one of eight transgender bills filed this legislative session. The governor has already signed two of them and he said he had no regrets on those.
He read a long and careful statement.
He said he’d sign a bill that simply banned gender reassignmemnt surgery for minors (which isn’t being done anyway). He said the law would deny treatment to minors currently receiving it, sending them to the black market.
“This is not the right path.”
He said he hoped conservative legislators would come up with a more restrained approach.
“Restraint is better than overbroad reactions that interfere with important relationships in our society.”
In response to a question, he said he saw independent issues in bills he signed to prohibit trans-girls’ participation in sports and the “conscience” bill to allow medical providers to refuse services. He said he didn’t think these bills were anti-transgender or gay, but he said he recognized some saw this differently.
“We want to send a message of tolerance and diversity,” he said. He said he hoped passage of a modified hate crimes bill (it doesn’t use the word hate) would send a positive message about Arkansas. That bill gets its first hearing in Senate committee this afternoon.
He said he’d talked to legislators but said “I fully expect a veto override.”
This bill faces a certain legal challenge if it does take effect.
Minutes after the announcement, the right-wing Family Council urged its members to call legislators to urge an override. A better response:
The ACLU of Arkansas today issued the following statement regarding Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of House Bill 1570, which would prohibit healthcare professionals from providing or even referring transgender young people for medically necessary health care. Multiple doctors and all major medical associations oppose this bill and similar bills across the country.
“This veto belongs to the thousands of Arkansans who spoke out against this discriminatory bill, especially the young people, parents, and pediatricians who never stopped fighting this anti-trans attack,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director. “Medical decisions should be left up to trans youth, their parents, and their doctor – not politicians or the government. Arkansas legislators should recognize the work Governor Hutchinson put into this decision and follow his lead by allowing this veto to stand. We remain committed to stopping this law from harming the people of this state, including going to court if that is what legislators force these families to do to protect their children.
From the Human Rights Campaign:
There are so far 192 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, 93 directly target transgender people and 29 would, like HB 1570, deny medically necessary services and gender-affirming care to transgender youth. Such bills have proliferated in the last two years — 57 bills of this kind — even as they have been opposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the National Association of Social Workers which have argued that this bill would only worsen the increased risk of anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, and suicidal ideation that transgender children face. These attacks on transgender youth are fueled by discrimination, not fact.
“This unprecedented bill, which would have denied medically-necessary and potentially life-saving gender-affirming care to transgender children was too extreme, even for Governor Asa Hutchinson,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “Even after signing other anti-LGBTQ and anti-transgender bills into law, Governor Hutchinson balked — he heard from a chorus of supporters of equality to veto this bill which was unpopular among Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike. This ought to be a warning to any governor across the country considering bills like HB 1570. The repercussions were too much for Arkansas, and they will be just as severe for any state weighing this type of legislation.”
“This veto will prevent further discrimination against transgender kids who are simply trying to receive gender-affirming care that will improve their health, safety, and wellbeing,” said Human Rights Campaign Arkansas State Manager Eric Reece. “All Arkansans deserve access to health care, especially in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Reaffirming access to this medically necessary care is an important step to prevent discrimination and exclusion of transgender kids. What’s too extreme for Governor Hutchinson should be too extreme for any governor.”
Good for the governor. But if his prediction is right about the legislature, too bad for Arkansas.