Arkansas Governor Vetoes Bill Banning Transgender Treatment for Minors

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) vetoed a bill Monday passed overwhelmingly by the legislature that would have blocked transgender procedures for minors, including drugs and surgeries, and prevented transgender procedures from being considered deductible expenses for income tax purposes.

Hutchinson said in a press conference the Arkansas Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act (HB 1570), the first of its kind in the nation, was “well-intended, but off course.”

The governor further explained:

If House Bill 1570 becomes law, then we are creating new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people. It is undisputed that the population of minors who struggle with gender incongruity or gender dysphoria is an extreme minority. But while they are a minority, they deserve the guiding hand of their parents, and of the health care professionals that their family has chosen. House Bill 1570 would put the state as the definitive oracle of medical care, overriding parents, patients and healthcare experts. While in some instances, the state must act to protect life, the state should not presume to jump into the middle of every medical, human, and ethical issue. This would be, and is, a vast government overreach.

Hutchinson said he conferred with Arkansas medical associations, which oppose the bill.

“[T]he concern expressed is that denying best medical care to transgender youth can lead to significant harm to the young person, from suicidal tendencies and social isolation, to increased drug use,” he said, adding that he would sign the bill if it simply banned gender reassignment surgeries.

“But the bill is overbroad, extreme and does not grandfather those young people who are currently under hormone treatment,” Hutchinson said:

In other words, the young people who are currently under a doctor’s care will be without treatment when this law goes into effect. That means they will be looking to the black market or go out of state, if they can afford it, to find the treatment that they want and need. This is not the right path to put them on.

Regarding Hutchinson’s claim that failure to provide transgender treatments leads to suicidal thoughts and deterioration in mental health functioning, in August the American Journal of Psychiatry released a correction to a 2019 Swedish study that erroneously concluded individuals claiming to be transgender experience mental health benefits following gender-affirming surgeries.

The American Journal of Psychiatry noted the authors of the original study retracted their conclusion after numerous requests for a reanalysis of the data led to the corrected findings.

Following reanalysis, the Swedish study’s conclusion was that neither “gender-affirming hormone treatment” nor “gender-affirming surgery” decreased the need for mental health services of those claiming to be transgender.

Additionally, Hutchinson did not appear to acknowledge that, once children are administered puberty blockers, most go on to insist on cross-sex hormones, which are likely to render them sterile.

Recently, Dr. Michelle Cretella, executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, and Natasha Chart, executive director of the feminist organization Women’s Liberation Front, wrote at the Post Millennial about the life-altering dangers awaiting teens with gender dysphoria who insist on receiving cross-sex hormones following puberty-blocking drugs.

The end result of blocking puberty from occurring normally, they warned, could be a fast-forward to middle age and all the health concerns that normally come to those in their 40s and 50s.

“Health professionals then prevent this normal and critical developmental stage altogether by administering cross-sex hormones throughout the sexual maturation window,” Cretella and Chart said, emphasizing that these teens are likely to experience “conditions of old age — a girl is sent into menopause, or a boy put into andropause — decades before their time.”

Cretella further observed during a Heritage Foundation webinar the surge in activism in the lucrative field of transgender medicine that has led to the “gaslighting” of many more children and teens.

Studies show, she explained, that nearly 100 percent of children who are given puberty blockers to stop normal puberty then go on to request cross-sex hormones, “which means we are sterilizing a great number of emotionally troubled youth.”

“And we already have girls, physically healthy girls, who are being referred for double mastectomies at age 13,” she asserted. “This is institutionalized child abuse. We’re taking emotionally troubled youth, psychologically abusing them by reinforcing their gender, sexual confusion, and then experimenting on them with toxic drugs and mutilating surgeries.”

LGBTQ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) called Arkansas’ HB 1570 an “anti-transgender bill that would have denied medical necessary, gender-affirming services to transgender youth,” and claimed the bill was another attack “on transgender youth” that is “fueled by discrimination, not fact.”

“This unprecedented bill, which would have denied medically-necessary and potentially life-saving gender-affirming care to transgender children was too extreme, even for Governor Asa Hutchinson,” said Alphonso David, HRC president, adding:

Even after signing other anti-LGBTQ and anti-transgender bills into law, Governor Hutchinson balked – he heard from a chorus of supporters of equality to veto this bill which was unpopular among Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike. This ought to be a warning to any governor across the country considering bills like HB 1570. The repercussions were too much for Arkansas, and they will be just as severe for any state weighing this type of legislation.

However, Family Research Council (FRC) is calling on the Arkansas legislature to override Hutchinson’s veto, observing the SAFE Act would not only protect children from experimental gender transition procedures but also allow them legal remedies should they become permanently disfigured and/or sterilized by them.

“The Arkansas legislature has demonstrated leadership and courage in the face of the Left’s campaign of deception combined with spineless wokeism of Corporate America,” said FRC President Tony Perkins, who warned further:

The harmful gender ideology sweeping across our nation creates a growing and urgent need for legislative protections for children vulnerable to life-altering procedures such as puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries. Research has not shown that these procedures are effective in improving patient’s mental health. They have serious negative side effects, up to and including permanent sterilization–thus violating the most fundamental principle of medical ethics, “First, do no harm.”

“While the governor called for a narrower bill, he did not seem to recognize that gender transition procedures are off-label, irreversible, and (as the name of the bill indicates) experimental,” Perkins added. “It is never appropriate to experiment on our children, no matter how politically expedient.”

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