Ohio Governor Blocks Ban on Gender Transitions for Minors, Paving the Way for Potential Override

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a member of the Republican party, has made a controversial decision by vetoing a bill that aimed to prohibit gender transition procedures for minors and prevent male athletes from participating in female sports teams. The bill, known as the SAFE (Saving Ohio Adolescents from Experimentation) Act, sought to outlaw physicians from conducting gender reassignment surgeries or prescribing cross-sex hormones or puberty-blocking drugs to minors. It also included provisions to prevent courts from interfering with parents’ decisions to raise their children according to their biological sex and prohibit male athletes from joining female sports teams in high schools and colleges.

During a press conference on Dec. 29, Governor DeWine announced his decision, citing his meetings with families, visits to children’s hospitals, and careful consideration of arguments both for and against the legislation. Despite pressure from fellow Republicans, he ultimately chose to veto the bill, stating, “Were I to sign House Bill 68, or were House Bill 68 to become law, Ohio would be saying that the state, that the government, knows better what is medically best for a child than the two people who love that child the most—the parents.” He emphasized that he sought to protect the rights of parents to make the best medical decisions for their children.

Governor DeWine revealed that he had spoken with transgender individuals who expressed that they may have taken their own lives if they had not received gender-altering treatments. He stressed, “This is a question of life, as far as I’m concerned. You know, on the abortion issue, I believe that’s a question of life and protecting human life. I believe, ultimately, my decision here was ultimately made about protecting life.”

Although the issues surrounding sports were also addressed in the bill, Governor DeWine stated that they did not directly impact his decision, as it affected only a small number of children. Despite his veto, he expressed his agreement with Republican lawmakers on certain aspects of the bill, including the prohibition of performing gender-altering surgeries on minors.

Governor DeWine announced that he would direct state agencies to develop rules to ban the practice of performing gender-altering surgeries on individuals under the age of 18. Additionally, he planned to implement rules requiring agencies to report data on patients who had received gender-altering care every six months to the General Assembly, as well as rules to restrict who could provide such care. He invited members of the General Assembly to collaborate with the state agencies in drafting these rules.

The bill had previously passed with overwhelming support from Republican lawmakers in both the Ohio House and Senate, with the exception of state Sen. Nathan Manning. Given the Republican supermajority in both legislative chambers, they will have the votes needed to potentially override Governor DeWine’s veto. This controversial decision has sparked debate and caused a rift within the party on this contentious issue.

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