Arkansas has become the first state to propose a bill that would prohibit health care providers from assisting minors who are seeking gender transitioning treatments.
House Bill 1570, dubbed the “Arkansas Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act,” was first proposed at the end of February.
The bill first passed the House on March 3 with a 70-22 majority. On March 29, it cleared the Senate with a 28-7 vote. Now, the bill sits on the desk of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Among the provisions in the 10-page bill are to enact the following prohibitions:
“(a) A Physician or other healthcare professional shall not provide gender transition procedures to any individual under eighteen (18) years of age.
“(b) A Physician or other healthcare professional shall not refer any individual under eighteen (18) years of age to any healthcare professional for gender transition procedures.”
Such procedures would cover everything from actual genital gender reassignment surgery to puberty-blocking drugs and hormonal therapies.
The bill also contains a prohibition against the use of state, county or local government funds to pay for such procedures.
SAFE declares that preforming gender reassignment procedures is unprofessional conduct that is subject to the disciplinary rules of the provider’s licensing agency. It did not make violations of the bill criminal.
The legislation opens the door for patients to sue physicians for misconduct or malpractice for violations of the bill. The statute of limitation could extend until the patient is 20 years old.
With such a long statute of limitations, providers will be encouraged to hold off on providing transitioning services until the patient is 18.
LBGTQ support groups have been very vocal, declaring these bills to be some of the most discriminatory pieces of legislation to date.
Arkansas has been in the national spotlight for months, with the legislature debating a plethora of bills related to abortion, pregnancy and transgender issues.
Often overlooked at the national level, Arkansas has become a new hotbed for discussion of LBGTQ rights and discrimination.
Arkansas is not a state in a vacuum. This is a trend across the nation.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, there are over 174 anti-LBGTQ bills in process throughout the U.S. Most of the bills try to gloss over what they are doing, but a majority are blatant in their efforts to restrict LBGTQ rights.
Most of this legislation is not about ensuring rights and services but rather is focused upon restricting services or providing limitations.