Arkansas overrides governor’s veto, bans treatments for transgender youth

FILE PHOTO: Governor Asa Hutchinson speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo

By Reuters Staff

(Reuters) – The Arkansas House and Senate on Tuesday voted to override a veto by Governor Asa Hutchinson, making Arkansas the first U.S. state to prevent doctors from providing certain types of care to transgender youth.

At least 16 other states are considering similar legislation, which transgender advocates have attacked, saying that cutting off badly needed care to adolescents would inevitably lead to more suicides. Civil rights organizations have also pledged to sue to stop any such measures that might pass.

But the mostly Republican proponents of the bills say they want to protect kids from medical procedures they will later regret.

They also accuse transgender advocates of minimizing the side effects of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, which are banned for minors under the bill. Backers of the law also point to the small number of cases where transgender people reverse their decision to transition as a reason minors need to be protected.

Hutchinson, a Republican in his second and final term, had vetoed the legislation on Monday, calling it “a vast government overreach.”

But he also called it well intentioned and said he expected an override vote after both chambers had previously passed the bill overwhelmingly.

The House voted 71 to 24 on Tuesday to override the veto, followed shortly thereafter by the Senate, 25 to eight. Only a simple majority was needed in each chamber. The bill will become law 90 days after the end of the legislative session, which is currently scheduled to end on April 30.

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