Arkansas Legislature Overrides Governor's Veto, Makes Anti-Trans Bill Law

Republicans ignored Gov. Asa Hutchinson's concerns about "vast government overreach."

The Arkansas House and Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to override Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of H.B. 1570, a harmful anti-transgender bill that bars doctors from providing medically necessary treatment for trans kids.

Hutchinson, a Republican, rejected the legislation yesterday on the grounds that it constituted “vast government overreach.”

“House Bill 1570 would put the state as the definitive oracle of medical care, overriding parents, patients and health care experts,” he said. “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.”

The House didn’t seem to agree and voted 72-25 on Tuesday to override Hutchinson’s veto, which was later confirmed with a 25-8 vote in the Senate. Lawmakers cast votes mostly along party lines in the Republican-controlled state, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Barring a legal challenge, the law will take effect this summer, although a legal challenge is almost guaranteed.

Shortly after voting concluded, the American Civil Liberties Union said it is preparing to challenge the law “as we speak.”

“This bill will drive families, doctors and businesses out of the state, and sends a terrible and heartbreaking message to transgender people who are watching in fear,” the ACLU said in a statement.

“Trans youth in Arkansas: We will continue to fight for you. We will always have your back, and we’ll be relentless in our defense of your rights.”

The legislation, called the “Arkansas Save Adolescents From Experimentation,” or SAFE, Act, prohibits doctors from providing minors with treatments including puberty blockers, hormone therapies or any other transition procedures. Physicians who nonetheless do so could see their medical licenses revoked.

All of the medical treatments H.B. 1750 bans are reversible. Under U.S. medical guidelines, more permanent actions, such as gender-affirming surgeries, aren’t typically an option until a patient is at least 18 years old.

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