Louisiana will join 20 other states that have placed a ban on gender-affirming care for minors after state Republicans banded together to overturn a veto by Governor John Bel Edwards.
Gender-affirming care for minors will no longer be available in the Southern state starting on January 1, 2024, restricting access to puberty blockers, hormone treatment, and gender-reassignment surgeries.
Democratic Governor Bel Edwards, 56, vetoed the bill in late June. He called out Republican legislators for titling the bill: “Stop Harming Our Kids Acts.”
“Which is ironic, because that is precisely what it does,” he wrote in his veto. “This bill denies healthcare to a very small, unique, and vulnerable group of children.
“The proponents of this bill suggest that it is necessary to stop physicians from mutilating our children by performing gruesome sex change surgeries. This is simply not happening in Louisiana,”‘ he pointed out at the time.
He highlighted that there were “zero gender reassignment surgical procedures performed on children” in the state.
Only a few dozen Louisiana minors – who were on Medicaid – received gender-affirming care between 2017 and 2021, according to a Louisiana Department of Health report.
On Tuesday, Bel Edwards issued a statement, slamming the Republican legislature, writing: “Today, I was overridden for the second time [in my governorship] on my veto of a bill that needlessly harms a very small population of vulnerable children, their families, and their health care professionals.
“I expect the courts to throw out this unconstitutional bill, as well.”
The state legislature spent three months discussing the bill and gender-affirming care — which has been available in the US for more than a decade, despite its recent uptick in current events. Discussions over the ban were marred by misinformation, swarmed with religious arguments and saw hours of emotional testimony from the LGBTQ+ community.
At one point, during the regular legislative session, the proposed ban was presumed dead after a Republican lawmaker cast a tie-breaking vote to kill the bill. However, amid pressure from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and the Republican Party of Louisiana, the bill was resurrected and passed.
In many of the other states, the bans are being tested by lawsuits and temporarily blocked by federal judges. It is unclear if Louisiana’s bill will face still hindrances.
Republicans maintain that they are trying to protect children, while opponents argue the bill would do the opposite, leading to heightened risks of stress, depression and suicidal thoughts among an already vulnerable group.
“If we don’t pass this bill, Louisiana will become the destination for children across the entire South to undergo these life-altering and irreversible medical experiments,” Representative Gabe Firment, the Republican who authored the bill, said.
“We cannot allow Louisiana to become a sanctuary state for the sterilization of innocent children.”
The Louisiana legislature voted 75 to 23 in favor of overriding Bel Edwards’ veto. The Senate voted 28 to 11 to override.
Another bill that would have banned discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity at public schools, and one that sought to stop students from using preferred names and pronouns also were up for votes in the Louisiana House for an override. Neither secured enough votes to get off the House floor.