Less than a week after its GOP-controlled legislature passed House Bill 1570 and put Arkansas on a path toward becoming the first state in the U.S. to ban healthcare for trans youth, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday vetoed the transphobic legislation, calling it a "vast government overreach."
Hutchinson's veto of HB1570, which would block doctors from providing gender-affirming care or referring patients for such care, came in the wake of sustained opposition to what the state ACLU chapter described as "one of the most extreme and harmful anti-trans bills in the country."
"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 ACLU of Arkansas tweeted Monday afternoon.
BREAKING: The governor of Arkansas just vetoed HB 1570, an extreme ban on health care for trans youth.— ACLU (@ACLU) April 5, 2021
This victory belongs to trans youth in Arkansas, and the parents and doctors that have come together to speak up.
I am crying. It will be hard to sustain but this is SO MEANINGFUL.— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) April 5, 2021
While praising Hutchinson's veto and the activism that brought it about, the national ACLU warned that the fight is not yet over because there is a substantial threat that state lawmakers will override the governor's veto, an act that requires only a simple majority in Arkansas.
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"Lawmakers in Arkansas should take the time to listen to the people of Arkansas—particularly trans youth—the way Gov. Hutchinson did and abandon this misguided and dangerous bill," tweeted the civil liberties organization.
This isn’t over yet. We are watching closely to see whether the legislature overrides the veto.— ACLU (@ACLU) April 5, 2021
Lawmakers in Arkansas should take the time to listen to the people of Arkansas — particularly trans youth — the way Gov. Hutchinson did and abandon this misguided and dangerous bill. https://t.co/75qku8ic42
Arkansas is far from alone in attempting to deny gender-affirming healthcare to trans youth. As the Washington Post reported Monday, "Republican lawmakers in at least 17 other states have introduced similar bans on medical treatments for transgender minors, despite opposition from major pediatric and psychiatric organizations."
Last month, Hutchinson himself "signed into law a ban on transgender girls competing in school sports consistent with their gender identity, as well as a bill allowing doctors to refuse treatment to a patient based on religious or moral objections," the Post noted.
In light of the GOP's nationwide legislative attacks on trans people, the ACLU said that "lawmakers across the country should take note."
"If they don't, we'll be just as loud," the group added. "Trans people BELONG."