The Arkansas state legislature voted Tuesday to override a veto by Governor Asa Hutchinson on legislation that would ban gender-affirming treatments for transgender youths in the state.
The House voted 71-24, and the Senate 25-8, to override Hutchinson’s veto just 24 hours after it was announced.
The “Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act” bars doctors from providing gender-affirming health care to transgender minors, including hormones, puberty blockers and transition-related surgeries.
During a press briefing Monday, Hutchinson called the bill “government overreach,” and called on state leaders to rethink the issue again before acting.
“You are starting to let lawmakers interfere with health care and set a standard for legislation overriding health care,” the Republican governor said. “The state should not presume to jump into every ethical health decision.”
The SAFE Act is one of the dozens of state bills introduced this year that LGTBQ advocates say diminish the rights of transgender Americans.
LGBTQ rights groups warn that the legislation, which would go into effect this summer, is unnecessary and detrimental for trans youth. Following the Senate vote, the ACLU tweeted, “We are preparing litigation as we speak.”
“Attempting to block trans youth from the care they need simply because of who they are is not only wrong, it’s also illegal, and we will be filing a lawsuit to challenge this law in court,” Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director, said in a statement. “We are hearing from concerned families all over the state who are afraid about the impact of this bill and others like it. We are committed to doing all we can to support these families and ensure they know how to continue to fight for their rights and get the care and resources they need.”