Saying the bill would be an "overreach," Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed House Bill 1570 - a legislation that would've banned transgender sex changes for minors in the state, reports say.
"This is a government overreach. You are starting to let lawmakers interfere with healthcare and set a standard for legislation overriding healthcare," Hutchinson said in a Monday news conference, per local news station WMC5. "The state should not presume to jump into every ethical health decision."
Hutchinson explained that the bill was too broad and sent a message he didn't agree with. He indicated that the bill was quite restrictive; nevertheless, he left the door open for the bill to be changed - and hopefully approved in the future.
The governor's decision was met with some criticism, particularly from people who want to protect children from transgender therapy and other sex change procedures.
"The Arkansas Legislature needs to step up and override the governor's veto to make sure this good bill becomes law," Jerry Cox of the Family Council said in a statement.
Calls For Prayer
Prior to Hutchinson's veto, Rev. Franklin Graham encouraged believers to pray for the governor to sign the bill into law.
In his statement during the "Pray Vote Stand" broadcast on Wednesday, with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, the evangelist reportedly noted the immense work of the devil in earlier months and called for Christians to fight and stand for truth, The Christian Post reported.
"What's happening is just wicked, to take a child and try and convince them that they can change and be a girl; they can change and be a boy. We can give you drugs and you can have surgery and all these things. A child can't comprehend that, and once you start down this path you can't reverse it. It's just a wicked thing," Rev. Graham stated.
Moreover, he advised believers to raise their voices "louder" than how the Left does.
The evangelist also said that he is hoping God would find Christians fighting against evil.
"When He comes back, I hope He finds us fighting and standing for truth ... against this tsunami, this tidal wave of evil that is coming down society today," he said.
Further, Rev. Graham stated that America is in continuous moral decline but that the church can help delay the process. He then called for people to pray for Gov. Hutchinson to take a stand.
On March 29, Arkansas State Senate passed HB 1570 or the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act, 28-7. The bill "would prohibit Arkansas youth from undergoing gender reassignment surgery or hormone supplements until they're 18 and let private insurers refuse gender-affirming care."
Rep. Robin Lundstrum, one of the co-sponsors, gave further clarifications about the SAFE Act.
"It simply says we're not going to experiment on our children; we're not going to give them drugs that would keep them from going through puberty," she told Perkins.
She pointed out that they need to protect the children, allowing these kids to make their own choices after the age of 18.
Lundstrum also shared about the letter she received from a Democrat transgender woman who expressed approval on the bill, stating that children must never be allowed to have medically-assisted gender transition.
"I think the shrill left is loud, but underneath, both sides of the aisle can agree, protecting children should be the first goal. We don't need to experiment on our kids. We just need to love them," the lawmaker continued.
Like the evangelist, Lundstrum, who is a member of Cross Church in Arkansas, also called for people to pray and encourage the governor to sign the bill into law.
The SAFE Act was sponsored by 65 Republican Arkansas lawmakers or 61% of the party's state legislators. The bill states that there are high rates of suicide, mortality and psychiatric morbidities among people who have undergone inpatient gender reassignment procedures, adding that taking the hormones has medical risks, such as cancer and increased risk of blood clots.
The proposed legislation contends that the state "has a compelling government interest in protecting the health and safety of its citizens, especially vulnerable children."