Ohio lawmakers override veto of bill banning sex-change surgeries for minors

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

Lawmakers in Ohio have overridden Gov. Mike DeWine's veto of a bill that bans cosmetic sex-change surgeries and the prescription of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for minors, allowing the proposed legislation to become law.  

The Ohio Senate voted 24-8 on Wednesday to override the veto of House Bill 68, which also prohibits biological males who identify as female from taking part in girls' sports, affirming an earlier veto override from the Ohio House.

The Ohio-based conservative Christian activist group Center for Christian Virtue celebrated the override. 

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"No child is born in the wrong body, no matter what powerful and well-funded lobbyists say. Today, Ohio has told an exploitative medical industry that we reject your junk science and will no longer allow you to experiment on our children," CCV President Aaron Baer said in a statement. 

"We've also guaranteed that every young woman in this state will have a free and fair playing field and will not be forced to compete against boys. This marks a turning point in Ohio: we will not remain silent when are children are being harmed."

In December, DeWine vetoed HB 68, saying 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 said at the time.

"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 concerns of lawmakers, so he signed an executive order banning sex-change surgeries for minors but still allowed the prescribing of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.

The executive order received criticism from both sides, with conservatives contending that DeWine's efforts did not go far enough to protect minors, while liberals believe that his restrictions would harm trans-identified people.

In a joint statement, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Ohio claimed that DeWine's order "could threaten the lives and well-being of transgender youth and adults across the state and needlessly insert politicians and bureaucracy between them and their doctors."

"In the interest of protecting transgender people's lives and their fundamental right to self-determination, these radical and life-threatening proposals must not be allowed to move forward," the progressive groups stated.  

"Ohio voters just made clear at the ballot box that government officials should not be involved in private healthcare decisions; these matters should be left to families and doctors, not politicians."

The American Principles Project, a national social conservative advocacy group, argues that the veto override is a victory for the protection of children and families.

"Most Americans agree that it is wrong to push children into permanent, bodily destructive procedures to 'treat' their mental distress. And they agree it is wrong to force women and girl athletes to compete against biological males in sports," said APP President Terry Schilling in a statement.

"We join with Ohio families today to express gratitude to the state legislature for righting the governor's wrong. And we look forward to making progress on these issues in even more states in the weeks ahead."

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