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Ohio House Overrides Governor’s Veto of Bill that Protects Kids from Transgender Procedures

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The Ohio House of Representatives voted to overturn Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of a bill that protects minors from harmful gender transition surgeries and cross-sex hormones as well as prevents transgender females from participating in women’s sports.

The House voted Wednesday to override the veto 65-28 along party lines. 

House Bill 68 includes the Saving Ohio Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act and the Save Women’s Sports Act. 

DeWine vetoed it on Dec. 29 saying he wanted to protect parents and children from government overreach on medical decisions. 

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“Ultimately, I believe this is about protecting human life,” DeWine said. “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.”

The SAFE Act would prohibit physicians from performing gender reassignment surgeries, prescribing cross-sex hormones or puberty blockers, and would prevent Medicaid from covering the costs of such surgeries.

It would also require healthcare professionals to complete mental health screenings to make sure minors are not suffering from comorbidities, abuse, or trauma before being treated for gender-related issues. It would also protect parents if they choose to raise their children according to their biological sex. 

The Save Women’s Sports Act requires “schools, state institutions of higher education, and private, nonprofit colleges or universities” to have separate sports teams for female and male athletes. 

Under the legislation, males cannot play on female teams, but females can play on male teams and co-ed teams can be established with a co-ed sports division.

“I think most people here have good intentions. I believe our governor has good intentions. However, good intentions do not save lives or protect women — good policy does,” said Ohio Republican Rep. Gary Click, a pastor and the bill’s sponsor.

After vetoing the bill, DeWine did sign an executive order on Jan. 5 prohibiting gender-altering surgeries for minors.

“A week has gone by, and I still feel just as firmly as I did that day,” DeWine said at a Jan. 5 news conference announcing his executive order. “I believe the parents, not the government, should be making these crucial decisions for their children.”

Opponents of the legislation have been rallying against it. 

“What we’re doing is moving people backward; we are restricting people’s rights; we are taking away health care,” said state Rep. Anita Somani, a Democrat and OB-GYN in central Ohio. “Listening to my colleagues here speak, I’m angry, I’m frustrated and I’m disappointed.”

Since 2021, more than 20 states have enacted legislation to protect children from harmful, irreversible genital-altering procedures. 

The Republican-majority Ohio Senate is expected to take up their own override vote of House Bill 68 on Jan. 24.

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