Members of the Arkansas General Assembly voted 96-32 Tuesday to override Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of House Bill 1570, which would prohibit doctors in Arkansas from administering gender-affirming medical care to transgender minors.
Overriding a veto in Arkansas requires a simple majority in both houses of the legislature. Legislators in the House voted for the override 71-24, and in the Senate 25-8.
Hutchinson said in a news conference Monday that he thought the bill was too extreme, because it would represent a legislative overreach and not protect youth currently undergoing hormone therapy. He said he recognized that legislators would likely override his veto, but he had hoped it would cause conservative Republican legislators to take a more restrained approach.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Robin Lundstrum and Sen. Alan Clark, who named it the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act. Members of several medical and advocacy groups, including the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, have spoken in opposition to the bill.
Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, said in a statement Tuesday that denying gender affirming care for transgender youth can have devastating consequences. The ACLU is currently preparing litigation and will “be relentless in” the fight for transgender youth to have access to gender affirming healthcare, Strangio said.
“The Arkansas Legislature has ignored dozens of local doctors and national medical experts, as well as trans youth and their parents,” Strangio said. “This bill will drive families, doctors and businesses out of the state and send a terrible and heartbreaking message to the transgender young people who are watching in fear.”
Sarah Komar contributed to this report.