Arkansas gov. vetoes bill banning puberty blockers, sex changes for children
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas, April 6, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas on Monday vetoed a bill that would block doctors in the state from providing sex change surgeries and other transgender medical procedures to minors.
In a press conference, Hutchinson attacked the legislation, which he was expected to sign, as “overreach.” He cited opposition to the SAFE Act by pro-LGBT medical groups, referring to harmful gender transition procedures as the “best medical care” for confused children.
The Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act was approved by the state senate last week after passing in the Arkansas House by an overwhelming 70-22 margin. Lawmakers can now override Hutchinson’s veto with a simple majority vote.
“A physician or other healthcare professional shall not provide gender transition procedures to any individual under eighteen years of age,” the SAFE Act reads, banning puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and sex change surgeries, as well as referrals for them.
“Arkansas has a compelling government interest in protecting the health and safety of its citizens, especially vulnerable children,” it says, pointing to the extreme risks of gender transition drugs and surgeries, including heart attack, cancer, and life-long infertility. The bill adds that the practices “far outweigh any benefit at this stage of clinical study.”
No large randomized or longitudinal studies have been done on the use of puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones in minors, and neither practice has been approved by the FDA. Hutchinson said that he might have signed the SAFE Act if it had not included bans on those experimental, sometimes deadly drugs.
The governor also parroted discredited claims that preventing access to gender transition practices would lead to “significant harm” and “suicidal tendencies” in young people. Research shows that transgender medical interventions, like puberty suppression, actually may increase the risk of suicide, while devastating countless other aspects of adolescents’ health.
Puberty blockers “arrest bone growth, decrease bone accretion, prevent the sex-steroid dependent organization and maturation of the adolescent brain, and inhibit fertility by preventing the development of gonadal tissue and mature gametes,” the American College of Pediatricians has noted.
Gender dysphoria resolves naturally in up to 97.8% of boys and 88% of girls, according to the American Psychological Association. Virtually all minors exposed to gender transition practices nevertheless move on to invasive, often regretted procedures like genital amputation.
“I was allowed to run with this idea that I had, almost like a fantasy, as a teenager … and it has affected me in the long run as an adult,” Keira Bell, a British woman whose testimony helped convince England’s high court to ban puberty blockers for most minors last year, has said. Bell was subjected to a double mastectomy before realizing that her “transition” was a mistake.
“The harmful gender ideology sweeping across our nation creates a growing and urgent need for legislative protections for children vulnerable to life-altering procedures such as puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries,” Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said in a press release on Monday.
“It is never appropriate to experiment on our children, no matter how politically expedient,” he added, urging the Arkansas legislation to override Gov. Hutchinson’s veto. “These unscientific, destructive gender transition procedures should not be allowed to interrupt the development of children and irreversibly alter their bodies,” he said.
Hutchinson’s cave to the pro-trans lobby follows a similar capitulation by GOP Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota last month, when she rejected a popular bill that would have banned gender-confused males in women’s sports. Gov. Hutchinson signed a bill protecting women’s sports in Arkansas into law two weeks ago.