Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine bans gender transition surgery on minors after House Bill 68 veto

Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order banning gender transition surgery on minors after vetoing House Bill 68.
Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order banning gender transition surgery on minors after vetoing House Bill 68.
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Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order on Friday that bans Ohio hospitals and surgical facilities from performing gender transition surgery on transgender minors.

The move came one week after DeWine vetoed legislation that would have prevented doctors from prescribing hormones, puberty blockers or surgery before patients turn 18. House Bill 68 also would have prohibited transgender girls and women from playing on female sports teams in high school and college.

DeWine spoke with families ahead of his veto, and he said none of them advocated for transition surgery for their children. Health care leaders have also said they don't recommend the procedure for minors.

Watch video: Gov. Mike DeWine bans gender transition surgery for minors

Still, the governor said his order will "take this issue off the table."

“There’s a broad, broad consensus against surgeries for minors, so let’s put that into a law so we can move on and talk about other things," he said during a news conference.

DeWine also announced Friday that his administration proposed rules to collect data on treatment for transgender Ohioans and prevent "fly-by-night" clinics that don't provide adequate mental health counseling. To achieve that, the rule would require a comprehensive care plan for transgender adults and children that involves an endocrinologist, psychiatrist and bioethicist.

DeWine said he's not aware of any complaints filed with the Ohio Medical Board over pop-up clinics. But he said he's concerned that there are facilities prescribing hormones without counseling.

"As I spent time looking at this and listening to people, it's clear that the most important part is the mental health counseling," DeWine said. "It needs to be lengthy, and it needs to be comprehensive."

Members of public will be able to comment on the surgery ban and other proposed rules before they're finalized.

Maria Bruno, public policy director for Equality Ohio, said DeWine's executive order is unnecessary because Ohio clinics already do not perform gender transition surgery on minors. The organization is waiting to review the other measures before staking out a position.

"Equality Ohio will defend unequivocally the right of adults to seek the medical care of their choosing," Bruno said in a statement. "Issue 1’s decisive victory in November was proof that Ohioans do not want politicians in their doctor’s office, period."

Ohio Legislature may override House Bill 68 veto

The governor's actions are unlikely to assuage proponents of House Bill 68 who believe they don't go far enough to protect children. Even former President Donald Trump weighed in after the veto, calling DeWine a "stiff" who has "fallen to the Radical Left."

"I think he has good intentions, but it’s going to take more than good intentions," said Rep. Gary Click, R-Vickery, who sponsored House Bill 68. "It’s going to take good policy."

Three-fifths of the Republican-controlled House and Senate must agree to an override. House lawmakers would have to act first since they wrote the bill, and that vote could come as soon as next week.

A spokesman for House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, declined to comment. A spokesman for Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said Senate Republicans plan to hold a vote on Jan. 24 if the House acts.

"I have a job. They have a job. They do their job. I do my job," DeWine said. "My job was to study this issue and decide whether to sign it. As I said a week ago, for me to sign the bill, for this to become law in the state of Ohio, I'll be saying that the government knows best, knows better than parents, about their own child's health."

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: House Bill 68: Mike DeWine bans gender transition surgery on minors