Associated Press/Report For America

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec 29, 2023 (AP): Republican Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed a measure Friday that would have banned gender-affirming care for minors and transgender athletes’ participation in girls and women’s sports, in a break from members of his party who championed the legislation.

GOP lawmakers hold enough seats to override DeWine’s veto, but if or when they would do so was not immediately clear. Both within and between chambers, Republican legislators have not been in lockstep this year.

In a news conference Friday, DeWine said he had listened to people on both sides of the legislation who “truly believe their position best protects children.”

He found that the bill would affect a small number of Ohio children, “but for those children who face gender dysphoria and for their families, the consequences of this bill could not be more profound.”

“Ultimately, I believe this is about protecting human life,” he said, announcing his decision to veto the legislation.

“Now, while there are rare times in the law in other circumstances where the state overrules the medical decisions made by the parents, I can think of no examples where this is done where it is not only against the decision of the parent, but also against the medical judgement of the treating physician and against the judgement of the treating team of medical experts,” he said. “Therefore, I cannot sign this bill as it currently written.”

However, DeWine said he believed there were administrative actions that could address the main concerns of the bill and announced a three-prong approach.

He is directing agencies to ban surgery on those under 18 as part of gender affirming care. He said he believes it’s a “fallacy out there that this goes right to surgery.”

He agreed with the Legislature that there was no comprehensive data on those who receive gender affirming care, and will direct relevant agencies to report findings to the Legislature and public about minors and adults seeking care.

Lastly, DeWine said his administration will draft rules and restrictions to prevent “pop up clinics or fly by night operations” so families receive “adequate counseling” regarding gender-affirming care.