Governor signs gender transition medical lawsuit bill into law
Gov. Sarah Sanders signed into law Tuesday (March 14) a bill that would allow citizens to file medical malpractice lawsuits against healthcare providers for performing gender transition procedures on them or their children.
In a statement to Talk Business & Politics, Alexa Henning, communications director for Sanders, said the governor supports the bill because it protects kids.
“Only in the far-left’s woke vision of America is it not appropriate to protect children,” Henning said.
According to SB199, gender transition procedures include surgical service and prescribed drugs that alter physical or anatomical characteristics that are typical for the individual’s biological sex.
During testimony for the bill, Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, one of the sponsors of the bill, said the bill is needed to avoid having “irreversible harm” done on children.
Rep. Ashley Hudson, D-Little Rock, who voted against the bill, said prior to her vote the legislature shouldn’t be involved with the process.
“I certainly won’t pretend to be an expert on what best medical treatment is for trans kids, but I know for certain that I’d rather they live through the session to have a chance to find out for themselves,” she said.
Hudson was referring to testimony from doctors at Arkansas Children’s Hospital who testified against similar legislation in 2021 citing concerns of increased suicide rates among transgender youth.
Parents or legal guardians of minors can bring civil action against healthcare professionals who perform gender transition procedures if the minor is injured physically or mentally. Lawsuits have to be filed within 15 years from the date the minor turns 15.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arkansas disagreed with Sanders’ decision to sign the bill into law.
“SB199 imposes severe consequences aimed solely at healthcare professionals who provide life-saving and life-changing care to transgender youth,” the ALCU said in a statement. “SB199 is an effort to achieve indirectly what the Constitution prohibits the state from doing directly. This law is not based on science or evidence, and it is a direct attack on the fundamental rights, health, and well-being of Arkansas’ youth and those who care for them.”
When asked if the group will file a lawsuit against the state for SB199, the organization said that hasn’t been decided and will be announced at a later date.
In 2021, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Arkansas for its passage of HB1570, which was the first law in the nation to ban gender-affirming care for minors. The ACLU’s lawsuit led to a federal court blocking the law.
SB199 still allows procedures to take place. The bill states healthcare professionals will have to provide in writing the procedure was the only way to treat a mental health concern and informed consent from the parents and the child is required.