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Louisiana's Gov. John Bel Edwards has vetoed the "Stop Harming Our Kids Act," a bill that would have banned transgender surgery, puberty blockers, and cross-sex hormones for children.
"And, without doubt [the 'Stop Harming Our Kids Act'] is part of a targeted assault on children," Gov. Edwards wrote in a six-page veto letter dated Thursday, addressed to Louisiana's Speaker Clay Schexnayder (R).
"Since there are zero instances of physicians performing gender reassignment surgeries in Louisiana, I can only speculate that this was included in the bill at such length and with such vivid descriptions to generate concern and outrage where none was warranted."
Earlier this month, Louisiana's Republican-controlled legislature passed the "Stop Harming Our Kids Act" alongside other bills related to young students' gender expression and sexual orientation, as PBS reported.
Republicans hold a veto-proof majority in the state, the outlet also reported.
In his lengthy missive, Edwards claimed there were zero gender reassignment surgical procedures performed on Louisiana children between 2017 and 2021, noting bill proponents' assertion that such procedures are "gruesome" and "mutilate children."
"In fact, there was never any evidence or testimony that [sex change surgeries on minors] was happening here and if it were, it would be a most egregious example of breach of standard of care and medical malpractice," Edwards wrote, citing the March 2023 Louisiana Department of Health's Study on Gender Reassignment Procedures on Minors.
Edwards said in his veto letter that he could "even agree" with the prohibition on "unnecessary surgical procedures to change [minors'] gender." In Edwards' view, the bill was designed instead to ban the use of "medically appropriate" puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.
"I believe that there is no legitimate state interest and no rational basis that justifies ... the cruel and extreme consequences imposed on children through the overt denial of healthcare by this bill ... I believe that time will show that this veto was not just an exercise in compassion and respect for transgender children and their parents, but it was also the only legally responsible action to take," Edwards also wrote, adding that he believes the bill violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
At least 19 states have enacted legislation protecting minors from transgender surgeries and related procedures, PBS reported. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, South Dakota and West Virginia.
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