Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, vetoed the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act on Friday, which aimed to prohibit gender-reassignment treatments for minors and restrict transgender women and girls from participating in female sports leagues in Ohio.
The bill, which had garnered support in the state’s Republican-dominated legislature, faced opposition from DeWine.
“This bill would impact a very small number of Ohio’s children. But, for those children who face gender dysphoria and for their families, the consequences of this bill could not be more profound,” DeWine said during a press conference. “Ultimately, I believe this is about protecting human life. Many parents have told me that their child would not have survived, would be dead today if they had not received the treatment they received from one of Ohio’s children’s hospitals. I’ve also been told by those who are now grown adults that but for this care, they would have taken their life when they were teenagers.”
DeWine’s decision came after extensive consultations, including visits to children’s hospitals and discussions with individuals from both sides of the debate. While vetoing the bill, he acknowledged certain concerns raised in the legislation, expressing his agreement with some aspects and proposing a collaborative approach with the General Assembly to address these issues.
The governor’s focus was primarily on the healthcare aspects of the bill. He did not initially comment on the sports-related provisions, which sought to ban transgender women from girls’ and women’s sports. When questioned, DeWine stated that he concentrated on the parts of the legislation that “affected the most people and the most children by far.”
Former NCAA Division I swimmer Riley Gaines, who had earlier pressured DeWine on this issue, expressed strong disapproval of the veto.
“Gov. DeWine has proven himself to be a spineless coward who is unwilling to do the obviously right and moral thing. This veto doesn’t represent the majority of Ohioans, or the majority of Americans. I’m confident and hopeful the Ohio legislature will override his veto,” she stated.
As of November, 22 states have passed laws or policies banning gender transition-related healthcare for minors. However, court injunctions have halted the implementation of these laws in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Indiana.
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