Under the Arkansas House Bill 1570 (HB 1570), private insurers will no longer need to provide gender affirming services to members of the LGBTQ community (bit.ly/3fBGW9H). Minors will not be provided hormone blockers, hormones or surgery, according to the guidelines laid out in HB 1570, as promoted by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Not only will doctors be unable to offer assistance themselves, they will also be powerless to refer transgender youth to other medical providers.
The senate voted 28 to 7 in favor of HB 1570 on March 29. Immediately after this announcement, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced Twitter, “HB 1570 was just passed through both chambers in the Arkansas legislature, banning trans youth from accessing health care and health insurance coverage that we deserve and need. Our rights and lives are under attack” (bit.ly/3fwYKD0).
Shortly after HB 1570 was passed, the public social argument became one of bodily autonomy. “Freedom for every body means that EVERY BODY gets to make their own decisions about their lives and healthcare — free from political interference,” the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) announced on Twitter (bit.ly/3sZ4l8M).
Abortion legislation is just one other example of the politic sphere infringing upon the world of healthcare. Conversion therapy is another illustration of how the government may, or in this case may not, interfere into LGBTQ medical care. In North Carolina, conversion therapy has not yet been outlawed and gender affirming care is not at all widespread.
HB 1570 would also affect gender expansive individuals outside of their gender identities. Transgender and nonbinary persons may be denied healthcare if a provider does not agree with their desired actions, based on religious ideology. The bill will allow Arkansas health officials to withhold birth control, reject patient requests for end of life care or even deny mental health counseling for same-sex couples (bit.ly/3wpGL7g).
Arkansas has also been in the media spotlight as of late for Gov. Hutchinson’s legislative support of the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which would prohibits transgender youth from participating in school-based sports that coincide with their gender identities (bit.ly/3rIVYwN).
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