- The Washington Times - Monday, April 5, 2021

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday he has vetoed a bill to ban gender-reassignment drugs and procedures for minors, sending it back to the state legislature for what he described as an anticipated veto override.

Mr. Hutchinson said he would have signed House Bill 1570 if it covered only sex-change surgeries for those under 18, which he said were already prohibited in Arkansas, but that the bill as written was “over broad” and “extreme.”

“House Bill 1570 would put the state as the definitive oracle of medical care, overriding parents, patients and health care experts,” Mr. Hutchinson told reporters. “While in some instances the state must act to protect life, the state should not presume to jump into every medical, human and ethical issue. This is and would be a vast government overreach.”

Arkansas would have been the first state in the nation to ban puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for minors if he had signed the bill, and certainly HB 1570 could still become law without his signature.

The legislation passed with double-digit majorities in both GOP-controlled chambers, and state law only requires a simple majority to override a gubernatorial veto.

“I understand that the General Assembly will likely override this veto,” he said, adding that “I’m hopeful, though, that my action will cause conservative Republican legislators to think through the issue again and hopefully come up with a more restrained approach.”

Mr. Hutchinson signed earlier this month legislation to ban transgender athletes from competing in girls’ and women’s sports in public schools, making Arkansas the fourth state to enact such a law after Idaho, Mississippi and Tennessee.

LGBTQ advocacy groups cheered the governor’s veto.

“Great news. Thank you to everyone who made your voices heard and spoke out against this anti-trans legislation,” tweeted GLAAD.

The conservative Family Research Council urged the state legislature to override the veto, saying that “unfortunately, Governor Asa Hutchinson appeared to yield to the sirens of the Left.”

The bill, named the Save Adolescents from Experimentation [SAFE] Act, would also prevent governments from requiring that taxpayers and insurance companies pay for such procedures, and provide “legal remedies for minors who have been permanently disfigured and/or sterilized by them,” said the FRC.

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