Oh, Ohio, why is this so hard?
Two months ago, voters across party lines passed abortion protections into the state constitution, sending an unmistakable message about the importance of keeping politicians out of private health care decisions and the power of the will of the people. Ohio’s extremist lawmakers are now targeting transgender health care with renewed vigor.
Ohio GOP House lawmakers overrode GOP Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of HB 68 on Wednesday, a bill that both bans health care for transgender youth, and bans trans girls and women from girls and women’s sports.
In doing so, they rejected the expertise of every major medical association that support this health care (30+ statements here, across specialties and patient lifespan). They rejected patients, families, and health care professionals who told Gov. DeWine in brutal terms why the bill should never become law.
“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. I have also been told, by those who are now grown adults, that but for this care, they would have taken their life when they were teenagers,” Gov. DeWine said in announcing his veto on Dec. 29.
“Families are basing their decisions on the best medical information they can get. The decision to move forward should only be reached if the child, the child’s parents, and the medical team all agree that this is the right decision,” Gov. DeWine continued.
“While there are rare times in other circumstances where the State overrules medical decisions made by the parents, I can think of no example where this is done, not only against the decision of the parents, but also against the medical judgment of the treating physician and the treating team of medical experts.”
This inclusive, factual and compassionate reasoning was celebrated, but short-lived. Gov. DeWine has since signed an executive order banning gender-affirming surgeries for transgender youth, something that Ohio’s hospitals have stated do not happen anyway. He also proposed administrative rule changes that add layers of red tape to health care for transgender adults, including required reporting of “deidentified data to the General Assembly and the public every six months.”
Equality Ohio noted, “As drafted, the proposed rules fundamentally change how Ohio medical systems operate and disrupt care for existing patients, including adults, making the immediate impact much more broadly felt than HB68.” ACLU of Ohio stated that the rules, “if finalized, would make Ohio the most restrictive state in the U.S. with respect to evidence-based health care.”
The Ohio Senate votes on whether to override DeWine’s veto of HB68 on January 24. If you live in Ohio, contact your state senator and urge them to vote no on the override. Ask your Ohio family and friends to speak up too.
The governor’s office is also accepting public comment on the draft rules. You can submit comment to ODHrules@odh.ohio.gov – the deadline is Monday, February 5th.