Wisc. Governor Vetoes Help Not Harm Act Protecting Children from Gender Transitions
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) on Wednesday vetoed the Help Not Harm Act (AB 465), a bill protecting minors from gender transition procedures. The law is the latest set forward by state legislatures across America to respond to a growing movement that pressures minors struggling with mental health into irreversible, experimental, and harmful procedures with little to no regulation or oversight.
“Evers made another harmful mistake,” responded Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R). “Such a life-altering decision should be made when you’re an adult, not a child. Many countries, including Norway, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, do not allow for gender transition surgery before the age of 18.”
Many Western countries, known for socially progressive policies, permitted gender transition procedures for minors years earlier than the United States, but they have recently rolled back that permission after experiencing the harmful effects.
“The Help Not Harm Act is common sense and supported by a majority of voters. This bill would protect kids from irreversible surgeries and procedures that alter their gender,” explained the bill’s lead senate cosponsor Duey Stroebel (R).
“AB 465 is a common sense policy that is supported by a growing majority of voters across the state and country,” Stroebel said in a statement. “Most reasonable people agree that children should not undergo life-altering and irreversible surgeries or chemical hormone procedures to alter their gender.”
“Protecting children from invasive and irreversible medical interventions is the right thing to do from both a scientific and ethical standpoint. While the Governor’s veto of this legislation is certainly not surprising, it serves as a stark reminder of just how out of touch with reality Governor Evers is,” Stroebel added.
“Our governor has essentially decided he wants to harm children rather than help them,” Wisconsin Family Action President Julaine Appling told The Washington Stand. “In his campaign and as an educator, he’s always said he’s about the kids. But he’s really much more about a political agenda from the liberals who are concerned that nothing will stand in their way to advance that agenda.”
Across the aisle, state Senator Mark Spreitzer (D) called the bill “cruel” during debate, accusing Republicans of “hurting LGTQ kids.” He insisted dramatically, “Kids are just trying to live their lives, do well in school — and yes, receive the medical care they need.”
But Stroebel pointed out that “there are no long-term studies on the purported benefits of so-called gender affirming care, while growing evidence indicates that these procedures do more harm than good for minors who undergo them.”
AB 465 would prohibit health care providers from “performing a surgery that sterilizes an individual … performing a mastectomy,” or “administering, prescribing, or supplying … puberty-blocking drugs” or cross-sex hormones “for the purpose of changing the minor’s body to correspond to a sex that is discordant with the minor’s biological sex.” The law delays its “effective date” by six months “to allow time for appropriate medication tapering and discontinuation” of minors currently taking puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones.
“When it comes to the well-being of healthy young people, Evers is unwilling to take the step to help them and not harm them to ensure that their future is not short-circuited by these surgeries and drugs,” said Appling.
As enforcement, AB 465 would authorize the Medical Examining Board, the Board of Nursing, or the Physician Assistant Affiliated Credentialing Board to revoke for one year the license of any provider who violates the protection for minors.
Similar bills protecting minors from gender transition procedures have been enacted in 19 states in 2023 and three more states in prior years, making for a total of 22. In Kentucky, North Carolina, and Louisiana, the bills were vetoed by Democratic governors, but Republican-controlled legislatures overrode those vetoes. In 2021, the Arkansas legislature enacted the very first SAFE Act over the veto of then-Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican.
AB 465 was introduced on September 29 after the year-round legislature returned from a long summer recess. It passed the state assembly 63-35 on October 12, and it passed the state senate 22-10 on October 17. On December 6, Governor Evers vetoed the bill.
To override a veto in Wisconsin, a bill must receive the support of “two−thirds of the members present” in each chamber. Republicans enjoy a 22-11 majority (two-thirds) in the Wisconsin Senate and a 64-35 majority (two votes short of two-thirds) in the Wisconsin Assembly. The Wisconsin Examiner noted, “If enough Democrats are absent and every Republican present, [a veto override] could be accomplished.”
Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.