Arkansas lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected a veto from GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson April 6, making Arkansas the first U.S. state to ban gender transitional surgeries and hormone supplements for anyone under 18.
Hutchinson had rejected House Bill 1570, also known as the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act, just over 24 hours earlier, saying the bill would create “new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents.” Yet the House voted 72-25 and the Senate voted 25-8 to override the governor’s veto.
“The bill simply protects minors from being preyed upon and pressured into making adult decisions before they are ready,” Rep. Robin Lundstrum, the lead sponsor of the bill and a Republican, said in a statement. “Those who claim otherwise are not being honest, and either haven’t read the bill or are placing fundraising above the best interest of children.”
Hutchinson admitted that he acted based on the assumption that his veto would be overridden.
Jon Schweppe, director of policy and government affairs for the family advocacy group American Principles Project, celebrated the veto override.
“As most Americans recognize, we should not be pressuring young children into undergoing highly experimental, life-altering procedures to ‘change’ their sex before they are even old enough to make most other major decisions,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that the law’s passage had to come over the veto of Gov. Hutchinson,” he added. “While the governor claimed he was acting out of a conservative concern for restraining government, restraint is not always a good thing.”
Arkansas is one of a handful of states where it only takes a simple legislative majority to override a governor’s veto.
“Arkansans ought to be proud of their lawmakers for standing up and protecting the welfare of children,” Jerry Cox, president of the Arkansas Family Council, said in a statement.
The new law is scheduled to take effect later this summer.
Photo: Paul Brady/Alamy Stock Photo