Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine vetoes House Bill 68 on transgender medical care, sports

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that he has vetoed Ohio House Bill 68, legislation that would have banned transgender girls from female sports and restricted the medical care of transgender minors.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that he has vetoed Ohio House Bill 68, legislation that would have banned transgender girls from female sports and restricted the medical care of transgender minors.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday struck down legislation that would have restricted the medical care of transgender minors and banned transgender girls from female sports.

House Bill 68, which cleared the House and Senate earlier this month, would have prevented doctors from prescribing hormones, puberty blockers or gender reassignment surgery before patients turn 18. It also would have prohibited transgender girls and women from playing on female sports teams in high school and college.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter: Get The Scoop, your source for Ohio politics and 2024 election news

“Were I to sign House Bill 68, or were House Bill 68 to become law, Ohio would be saying that the state, that the government knows better what is medically best for a child than the two people who love that child the most: their parents," DeWine said.

DeWine is being called 'child mutilator' Veto of unholy bill shows that's far from true| Opinion

DeWine's decision came after he visited children's hospitals, spoke with families and reviewed testimony for and against the legislation. He said his administration will draft rules to ban surgery for patients under 18, collect data on transgender medical care for adults and children, and restrict pop-up clinics that don't provide adequate mental health counseling.

Read DeWine's full statement| 'This is about protecting human life.' DeWine vetos anti-trans athlete, medical care bill

The bill passed the House and Senate with a supermajority, meaning lawmakers could mobilize enough support to override DeWine's veto. Ahead of Friday’s news conference, DeWine’s fellow Republicans – including Lt. Gov. Jon Husted – voiced support for the legislation and urged him to sign it.

Watch video: Gov. Mike DeWine announces veto of House Bill 68

Husted is expected to run for governor in 2026.

“I’ve been asked my opinion on HB 68,” Husted posted Thursday. “I support it for two main reasons: Men should not compete in women’s sports. Permanent medical decisions concerning gender should not be made when you are a child. I hope the SAFE Act will become law in Ohio.”

House Bill 68 spurs emotional debate

The veto delivered a victory to transgender Ohioans, advocates and medical providers who spoke out against the legislation and urged DeWine to reject it.

“These are gut-wrenching decisions that should be made by parents and should be informed by teams of doctors who are advising them," DeWine said. "These are parents who have watched their child suffer, sometimes for years, and who have real concerns that their child may not survive to reach adulthood. While the child’s care team informs their decisions, it is the parents who are living with that child who know their child better than anyone else in the world."

More: Lawmakers, groups react to Gov. DeWine's veto of HB 68 transgender medical care bill

The governor said little about the sports provision on Friday, but he previously signaled that he believes the issue shouldn't be handled by government. That measure was initially separate from the medical care bill, but House lawmakers combined them into one proposal.

In a letter to DeWine, several health care organizations said doctors already get parental consent and don't recommend gender transition surgery for minors.

"To advance this measure, supporters have demonized providers and parents alike and pushed misinformation in order to deny care to an incredibly small number of Ohio children," they wrote. "Simply put, this bill takes away parental rights and will harm Ohio kids."

Proponents argued the bill was necessary to protect children and pointed to stories of people who detransitioned − something LGBTQ advocates say is rare. A 2022 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found 94% of youth maintained their gender identity five years after their social transition.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association allows transgender girls to join female teams if they've completed at least one year of hormone therapy. Seven transgender girls were approved to play girls' sports at OHSAA schools for the 2023-24 school year.

“I hope if nothing else, the governor will look at this and look at the number of kids that are going to be harmed if this legislation goes into the effect," Arienne Childrey, a transgender woman running for the Ohio House, said before DeWine's veto. "The number of families that are going to have to decide whether they risk their children’s safety or put their house on the market and move to a different state."

Will lawmakers override DeWine's veto?

Proponents of House Bill 68 immediately panned DeWine's decision and urged the Legislature to override his veto. Since it was House legislation, that chamber would need to act first.

"The bill sponsors, and the House, have dedicated nearly three years to get the bill right − to empower parents and protect children," House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, said in a statement. "It was passed by veto-proof majorities in each chamber. We will certainly discuss as a caucus and take the appropriate next steps."

Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, signaled that Senate Republicans would support an override if the House takes action.

"I'm extremely disappointed by the Governor's veto,” he said. “Changes were made to the bill to accommodate his concerns, and the bill was strongly supported in the Senate by the Republican Caucus. … We look forward to the House taking the next step."

DeWine said he hopes the administrative action he announced will be enough to prevent that.

"I truly believe that we can collaborate, find common ground and adopt rules to protect Ohio children, adults and families in this area," he said.

Haley BeMiller is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Gov. Mike DeWine vetoes House Bill 68 trans health care bill