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Arkansas lawmakers override GOP governor's veto of bill restricting transgender health care

Arkansas' Republican-led legislature on Tuesday overrode Governor Asa Hutchinson's veto of a bill restricting health care procedures for transgender youth, regardless of parental consent. Arkansas is now the first state in the country with a law banning gender-affirming treatments for people under 18.

The move comes just one day after the Republican governor rejected the bill while acknowledging that state lawmakers would likely overrule him. The Arkansas House voted 71 to 24 to override Hutchinson's veto, followed by a 25 to 8 vote in the Senate. 

House Bill 1570, known as the Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act, outlaws treatments such as surgery and hormone therapy for transgender minors. The ban extends to people who are already receiving these treatments. The Arkansas legislature approved the measure last month, following a wave of bills targeting transgender people being passed by Republican lawmakers nationwide.

Hutchinson has recently signed bills that ban transgender athletes from participating in women's sports and allow doctors to potentially turn away LGBT patients due to religious or moral objections. He said he drew the line on the latest bill because it interfered with sensitive medical issues and did not continue care for transgender youth who are already transitioning. 

He called HB 1570 "vast government overreach" and "a product of the cultural war in America." 

The law will likely face immediate legal challenges that could stop it from being enacted. Shortly after the vote, the ACLU of Arkansas said in a statement it plans to sue.

"Attempting to block trans youth from the care they need simply because of who they are is not only wrong, it's also illegal, and we will be filing a lawsuit to challenge this law in court," executive director Holly Dickson said.

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