Louisiana governor vetoes state ban on trans healthcare passed on ‘propaganda and misinformation’

Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards stares slightly off camera while wearing a blue shirt and grey jacket

The governor of Louisiana has vetoed a ban on gender-affirming care for most minors in the state. 

House Bill 648 – which passed the Republican-led legislature in early June – would prevent anyone under the age of 18 from receiving gender-affirming healthcare.

The bill also seeks to punish health care professionals who provide such care with the removal of their medical licence for a minimum of two years, as well as leaving them open to potential lawsuits.

Governor John Bel Edwards wrote in his veto letter that the bill, also known as the “Stop Harming Our Kids Act” is ironic “because that is preciously what it does”.

Democrat Edwards explained: “It’s part of a targeted assault on children that the bill deems not ‘normal’. It is unfathomable to think that in my last few months serving as governor of this state I would sign into law a bill that categorically denies health care for children and families based on propaganda and misinformation generated by national interest groups.

The governor went on to say: “I assessed the need for this bill based on Louisiana data and facts and read every word multiple times to determine if there was any possible merit to [it]. There is not.” 

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The legislature’s Republican majority could vote to override Edwards veto, with supporters of the ban needing a two-third majority in both chambers of the Louisiana House.

HB 648 has caused controversy over the past few months after it was originally struck down by a House committee by just one Republican vote.

A group of state Republicans reissued the bill for consideration by the senate judiciary, which passed it in a six-minute hearing on 2 June.

It has since been rushed through the state capitol’s law-making process, passing a final vote just four days after it was recommitted.

Edwards joins other Democratic governors who have pushed back on Republican-led efforts to prevent the trans community accessing gender-affirming healthcare across the US. 

In April 2022, governor Laura Kelly rejected Senate Bill 160, under which Republicans looked to ban trans athletes from girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas. 

Kentucky governor Andy Beshear vetoed a similar measure earlier that month, arguing that it “discriminates against transgender children”. However, Republicans in the state legislature quickly overturned the veto to force the ban through. 

Edwards said at a news conference after the Louisiana legislative session’s adjournment on 8 June that he expected to veto a torrent of anti-LGBTQ+ bills. 

He urged Louisiana residents to “focus on the real problems” rather than picking on “very small minorities” containing the “most vulnerable, fragile children in our state, those most likely to engage in suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts”, adding: “There’s nothing great in that.”

Edwards has served two four-year terms as governor and is prohibited for standing for re-election again later this year.

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