The Arkansas state legislature voted on Tuesday to override a veto by Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) of a bill prohibiting gender-transitioning procedures for children.
Last month, the state’s Senate had approved House Bill 1570, the “To Create The Arkansas Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act.” The bill prohibited a “physician or other healthcare professional” from providing “gender transition procedures to any individual under eighteen (18) years of age.”
In addition to banning the procedures for minors, the bill also blocked referrals and public funding for these procedures.
Hutchinson had been expected to sign the legislation, but he vetoed the bill on Monday, citing government overreach. On Tuesday, both the state House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to override his veto, with the House voting 71-25 and the Senate 25-8 in favor of the veto override.
According to CBS News, Hutchinson said on Monday that he considered the bill “government overreach” and argued it would lead to “legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people.”
“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,” Hutchinson said.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Hutchinson is the second governor in recent weeks to veto legislation on the transgender issue.
Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota (R) on March 19 vetoed a bill that would have prohibited student-athletes identifying as transgender women from participating in women’s sports based on their gender identity. Noem struck multiple provisions, including one applying the prohibitions to college sports, and called on the legislature to pass an amended version of the bill. The legislature failed to override her veto.
The ACLU of Arkansas, which opposed the state’s bill, had applauded Hutchinson’s veto.
“This victory belongs to the thousands of Arkansans who spoke out against this discriminatory bill, especially the young people, parents, and pediatricians who never stopped fighting this anti-trans attack,” the group wrote on Facebook.