This past Monday, Republican Arkansas Governor Hutchinson vetoed an anti-trans healthcare bill. If passed, the bill would have prohibited state physicians from providing trans people younger than 18 with gender-affirming procedures.
Hutchinson told news outlets that he decided to veto the HB 1570 bill because it would have been a major government overreach. He also noted that it would create “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 called this bill “a product of the cultural war in America.” Even though he believed that the bill was “well-intended,” he felt that vetoing it was the right choice to maintain a balance in the state.
“The bill is over broad, extreme, and does not grandfather those young people who are currently under hormone treatment,” said Hutchinson. “In other words, the young people who are currently under a doctor’s care will be without treatment when this law goes into effect.”
What Was The HB 1570 Bill?
The HB 1570 bill was named the Arkansas Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act. It was passed in the Senate in March on a 28-7 vote after the state House passed in on a 70-22 vote.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Arkansas would have been the nation’s very first state to outlaw healthcare surrounding gender-affirming procedures for transgender youth, had the governor approved the bill.
The bill did have an exception within it for those with unspecified hormone production or chromosomal makeup. Beyond that, the bill also made an exception for those having difficulties with previous gender-affirming procedures.
The bill would have banned “cross-hormone” therapy. In the medical world, this is a gender-affirming procedure that allows trans people to alter their physical appearance so that they can embody the identity that they choose.
Hutchinson – A Needle In the Republican Haystack
The move from Hutchinson to veto the bill comes as Republican politicians from all around the country push for anti-trans legislation. The truly odd thing about this decision is that he recently approved another bill in March banning trans women and girls from participating in traditionally female sports.
Hutchinson also passed a bill that allowed healthcare professionals to refuse non-emergency procedures if they conflict with their moral or religious beliefs.
Medical advocates and LGBTQ members from all around the country lobbied against the HB 1570 bill, as they worried it could negatively impact transgender youth, youth who, according to the CDC, are at a much higher risk of suicide.
An LGBTQ youth crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization known as the Trevor Project noted Hutchinson’s decision as a major “victory for the transgender and nonbinary youth of Arkansas.”
Sam Brinton, Trevor Project’s vice president of government affairs and advocacy said that “we hope this action sends a message to other lawmakers across the country considering similar bans on gender-affirming medical care, which would only work to endanger young trans lives.”
As for now, measure sponsors did not note when or if they planned to seek out an override for the governor’s decision.