Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would ban doctors from performing gender transition surgery or offering puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones to minors.
The bill “would put the state as the definitive oracle of medical care, overriding parents, patients, and health care experts,” Hutchinson told reporters at a press conference on Monday. “While in some instances the state must act to protect life, the state should not presume to jump into the middle of every medical, human, and ethical issue. This would be, and is, a vast government overreach.”
Watch AR Gov. Hutchinson's announcement: pic.twitter.com/pcMY87stVu
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Hutchinson added, “Government under a conservative philosophy should be restrained…This is an example of where restraint is better than over-broad actions that interfere with important relationships in our society.”
Hutchinson acknowledged that the Arkansas General Assembly, the state’s legislature, could override his veto by a simple majority vote. Under the bill, medical professionals who offer gender transition services would be in danger of losing their medical license.
If the General Assembly overrides Hutchinson’s veto, Arkansas would be the first state to ban gender transition services to residents under age 18. Other states are considering similar legislation, including Tennessee, which is considering a ban on most gender transition services to minors unless they have the consent of three physicians.