Arkansas lawmakers override veto, enact transgender youth treatment ban

Mid-South

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (NewsNation Now) — The Arkansas General Assembly voted Tuesday to overturn Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill, making the state the first to ban gender-affirming medical treatment for transgender youth.

The vote came one day after the announcement of Hutchinson’s veto of HB1570, called the “SAFE Act” by its sponsors.

The bill is now set to become state law, making Arkansas the first state to ban gender-affirming medical treatments or surgery for transgender youth. It would prohibit doctors from providing gender-affirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for the treatment.

Opponents of the measure have vowed to sue to block the ban before it takes effect this summer.

Hutchinson vetoed the bill following pleas from pediatricians, social workers and parents of transgender youth who said the measure would harm a community already at a heightened risk for depression and suicide.

Hutchinson said the measure went too far in interfering with parents and physicians, and noted that it will cut off care for transgender youth already receiving treatment. He said he would have signed the bill if it had focused only on gender-confirming surgery, which currently isn’t performed on minors in the state.

NewsNation affiliate KARK and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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