Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday vetoed legislation that would have made the state the first to bar doctors from providing gender-affirming care to transgender minors, describing the measure as a “vast government overreach.”
The GOP governor said he worried the legislation would set a new standard for government interference with medical care, and he said he was particularly bothered that the bill did not make exceptions for patients already receiving treatment who would be forced to stop.
“That makes my heart break to think about it,” Hutchinson said.
The bill would have marked an escalation in the GOP’s efforts to enact anti-transgender measures in statehouses around the country this year. It was strongly opposed by medical experts and LGBTQ advocates, who warned it would interrupt with needed care.
The Republican-controlled Arkansas legislature, however, can still override his veto with simple majority votes in both chambers — a step that Hutchinson said he expects lawmakers will take.
Hutchinson, meanwhile, has recently signed two bills similar to anti-transgender efforts in other states. Those include bills prohibiting transgender girls from playing on competitive sports consistent with their gender identity and another allowing doctors to refuse patients based on moral or religious grounds — an effort that LGBTQ advocates saw aimed at limiting care for transgender patients.
The measure Hutchinson vetoed on Monday, however, he said represents “interference by the state in a parent, child, doctor-patient relationship."
Hutchinson said he didn’t receive pressure from corporations to veto the measure since the legislature passed it a week ago, but he said he would not be surprise if the state receives backlash — particularly in light of the reaction to Georgia’s election legislation.
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