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Ohio governor vetoes ban on gender-affirming care and sports participation

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine meets with reporters after touring the Norfolk Southern train derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine meets with reporters after touring the Norfolk Southern train derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Ohio Republican Gov Mike DeWine vetoed a ban that would have restricted gender-affirming care for minors and limited transgender girls’ ability to participate in school sports in the state.

Mr DeWine opposed a bill on Friday that would have prevented minors from receiving transition health care as well as prohibited transgender students from participating in school sports teams that align with their gender identity.

At a press conference after the veto, he said that these “decisions should not be made by the government” and he felt that “there is no one better than the parents to make those decisions.”

“This is a question of life, as far as I’m concerned,” he said, and that his decision to veto the ban protects the life of children in Ohio.

Mr DeWine expressed concern about gender-affirming surgeries, but added that he spoke to families who “have gone through this, the issue of surgery is not what they said was a problem.”

He said he wanted to approach the issue in a “systematic way” and hoped to “follow the evidence.” He added, “I truly believe that we can address a number of goals in House Bill 68 by administrative rules that will have likely a better chance of surviving judicial review and being adopted.”

Ohio Sen JD Vance took issue with Mr DeWine’s assertion that parents, not the government, were best equipped to make these tough medical decisions for their children. The Republican senator wrote on X, “This is a slogan, not a justification. There are many things the law rightfully says no one, including parents, may do to children.”

Mr Vance continued, “This slogan also ignores the extraordinary pressure from interest groups and big pharma to green light poorly understood, irreversible procedures. I’m extremely disappointed in the governor’s decision and hope it is overridden.”

Mr DeWine’s veto makes him one of only a few governors in his party to oppose such bans.

According to NBC News, the Ohio Republican is one of only two Republican governors to veto a restriction on gender-affirming care and one of only three Republican governors to veto a sports ban relating to trans youth.

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson issued a statement following Mr DeWine’s decision: “Ohio families don’t want politicians meddling in decisions that should be between parents, their kids and their doctors. Instead, parents, schools and doctors should all do everything they can to make all youth, including transgender youth, feel loved and accepted, and politicians should not be making it harder for them to do so.”

The statement also thanked the Ohio governor for “listening to the people of his state and making the right decision for young trans Ohioans.”

The veto comes days after a federal judge preliminarily blocked a gender-affirming care ban from going into effect in Idaho.