Ohio House votes to overturn Mike DeWine's veto of trans surgery ban for minors

Ohio, State Capitol building in Columbus, Ohio.
Ohio, State Capitol building in Columbus, Ohio. | iStock/pabradyphoto

The Ohio House of Representatives has voted to override Republican Gov. Mike DeWine's veto of a bill that would ban sex-change surgeries for minors, with the state Senate still needing to vote the same for it to become law.

The Republican-controlled lower house voted on Wednesday to override DeWine's veto of Substitute House Bill 68, which included the Save Women's Sports Act and the Saving Adolescents From Experimentation Act.

In addition to banning cosmetic sex-change surgeries for minors and the prescription of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to kids, HB 68 would also prohibit males who identify as female from competing in female athletics.

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With the Ohio General Assembly controlled by a Republican supermajority, a veto override requires a three-fifths majority vote in both houses. The Ohio Senate is expected to vote on the veto override on Jan. 24. 

State Rep. Melanie Miller, a Republican who represents the city of Ashland, said in a statement that overriding the veto was "a vote to protect women and children."

"We must protect our children from making life altering decisions at such an early age — decisions that they will never be able to reverse. Moms and dads always need to be a part of these critical decisions," stated Miller.

"When it comes to women's athletics, this vote ensures that females can compete on a level playing field, and not against biological males."

The American Civil Liberties Union and its Ohio chapter denounced the veto override, releasing a joint statement expressing disappointment.

"This state-sponsored vendetta against some of Ohio's most vulnerable young people is beyond cruel. The ACLU of Ohio stands in solidarity with all transgender youth and their families," the progressive organizations stated.

"Ohioans do not want government officials involved in private medical decisions, these matters should be reserved for parents, children, and doctors."

The Danbury Institute, a recently formed conservative Christian advocacy group, circulated a letter to Ohio lawmakers imploring them to override the veto. 

"As elected representatives of Ohio, you face a decision of profound moral and ethical significance," read the letter, which was signed by several pastors and ministry leaders. 

"We trust wisdom and moral clarity will lead you to override Governor DeWine's veto in order to honor our shared values and safeguard the future of our society and its youngest members."

In late December, DeWine vetoed HB 68, claiming that the proposed legislation would prevent parents from making medical decisions for their trans-identified children.

"Many parents have told me that their child would be dead today if they had not received the treatment they received from an Ohio children's hospital," DeWine stated.

"Were I to sign Substitute House Bill 68 or were Substitute House Bill 68 to become law, Ohio would be saying that the State, that the government, knows what is best medically for a child rather than the two people who love that child the most, the parents."

DeWine agreed with some of the issues raised by lawmakers, with the governor signing an executive order last week banning sex-change surgeries for minors but still allowing for the prescribing of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.

Matt Sharp of the conservative nonprofit legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom released a statement Friday arguing that DeWine's executive order fails to protect children in Ohio adequately.

"Let's be crystal clear: growing evidence shows that the long-term use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones hurts a child's physical, emotional, and psychological development in ways that we still don't understand," said Sharp.

"The governor's move also fails to address the ongoing issues of males competing in women's sports, depriving female athletes in Ohio of opportunities they have worked their whole lives to achieve."

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