Ohio governor vetoes bill to ban gender-affirming care

Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced he is vetoing a bill that would have banned gender-affirming care for trans youth and transgender participation in women’s sports. 

DeWine issued the veto despite the bill getting overwhelming support from Republican legislators. The bill passed with all 62 House Republicans and 24 out of 25 Senate Republicans voting in favor. 

The bill had enough support in both chambers for the legislature to potentially override DeWine’s veto. 

DeWine said he made the decision after visiting doctors and patients at multiple Ohio children’s hospitals.

“Were House Bill 68 to become law in Ohio, it would be saying that the government knows better what is medically best for a child than the two people who love that child the most: the parents,” DeWine said. “While there are rare times in the law in other circumstances where the state overrules the medical decisions made by their parents, I can think of no example where this is done where it is not only against the decision of the parents, but also against the medical judgment of the treating physician and against the judgment of the treating team of medical experts.”

The bill would have prohibited gender-affirming care for trans and nonbinary youth, including hormone blockers, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), medical or surgical procedures and some mental health services.

Had the bill been signed, health care professionals who provide this care would have potentially lost their licenses and sued. Medicaid would not cover gender-affirming procedures for minors.

GLAAD, one of the leading organizations advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, encouraged DeWine to veto the bill. 

“Ohio legislators have failed their residents by forcing a bill forward that makes it impossible for the entire community of transgender young people to access basic and essential health care, or to be happy and healthy alongside their peers in playing school sports. Transgender youth deserve the same equal opportunities as anyone else growing up in Ohio; and should not be denied fair access to health care and school extracurriculars,” said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis. 

House Bill 68 was introduced by Republican State Rep. Gary Click. Lawmakers in favor of the bill argue that trans teens don’t know what they really want, and their parents and doctors are pressured to approve this health care.

Prior to DeWine’s veto, Click said he believed DeWine would ultimately sign the bill. 

“I believe that Governor DeWine is putting more thought and effort into this bill than any that has been placed on his desk since he has been governor,” Click said “I am in constant contact as is the opposition. He is asking good questions.”

During his news conference, DeWine announced administrative actions that could address the main concerns of the bill. He is directing agencies to ban surgery on those under 18 as part of gender-affirming care. 

DeWine also wants the state to draft rules to require families receive “adequate counseling” regarding gender-affirming care.