Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed House Bill 1570 Monday, after the Arkansas House of Representatives passed the bill with a 70-22 vote March 11. The bill would prohibit doctors from administering gender affirming care, including puberty blockers and cross-gender hormones, to transgender minors.
Hutchinson said he chose to veto House Bill 1570 because signing it into law would set a new precedent of legislative interference with physicians’ and parents’ navigation of complex and sensitive matters involving children. He said he thinks the bill’s passage would be a vast government overreach and that young people deserve the “guiding hand” of their parents and healthcare professionals.
“HB1570 would put the state as the definitive oracle of medical care, overriding parents, patients and healthcare experts,” Hutchinson said. “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.”
The bill is opposed by leading U.S. medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, and experts have raised concerns that denying proper healthcare to transgender youth can create significant harm, including social isolation, suicidal ideation and increased drug use.
Hutchinson said he thinks the bill is broad and extreme, and does not protect young people who are currently undergoing hormone therapy. He thinks conservative governments should be restrained, but he understands that the legislature will likely override his veto.
“HB1570 had overwhelming support when it passed the first time, and as you know it takes a simple majority to override the governor’s veto in Arkansas,” Hutchinson said. “I am hopeful, though, that my action will cause conservative, Republican legislators to think through the issue again and hopefully come up with a more restrained approach that allows a thoughtful study of the science and ethics surrounding the issue before acting.”