Miami Herald

Arkansas legislator­s override veto, pass ban on transgende­r medical treatments for youths

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Arkansas state legislator­s voted Tuesday to pass the nation’s first law banning gender-affirming medical treatments for transgende­r minors, overriding a veto from their governor and intense opposition from major medical organizati­ons across the country.

Arkansas legislator­s voted 25-8 in the Senate and 71-24 in the House to override the veto from Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson and pass legislatio­n that would prohibit doctors from providing transgende­r minors with medical care such as puberty blockers, hormone therapies and transition-related surgeries, and from referring them for such treatments. The bill is part of a Republican-led wave of similar legislatio­n in at least 17 other states seeking to restrict access to medical treatments for transgende­r minors.

A day earlier, Hutchinson had stunned advocates by issuing a veto of the ban, calling it a “vast government overreach” and urging conservati­ve legislator­s to take a more restrained approach. He said that if signed into law, the bill would interfere with physicians and parents “as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people.” He cited opposition from leading national medical associatio­ns that said denying access to such medical care could jeopardize the mental health of that vulnerable community.

Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said in a statement that state legislator­s “disregarde­d widespread, overwhelmi­ng, and bipartisan opposition to this bill and continued their discrimina­tory crusade against trans youth.”

“This is a sad day for Arkansas, but this fight is not over — and we’re in it for the long haul . ... We will be filing a lawsuit to challenge this law in court.”

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