Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) last week signed a series of bills designed to ban transgender girls from participating in women’s sports, prevent doctors from offering gender reassignment surgery to minors, and outlaw abortions after 15 weeks.
“This legislation is commonsense and narrowly-targeted to address these two specific issues – while ensuring that transgender individuals continue to receive the same dignity, respect, and kindness as every individual in our society,” wrote Ducey.
The decision to prevent biological males who identify as females from participating in women’s sports is designed to maintain fairness for young athletes and has been adopted by at least 10 states. In Arizona, the law applies to all public schools, colleges, and universities in the state.
Opponents see the law as discrimination and claim it offers a solution to a problem that does not exist.
“This bill is creating a pointless and harmful solution to a non-existent issue,” argues Skyler Morrison, a 13-year-old transgender girl. “It’s obvious this bill is just an excuse to discriminate against transgender girls.”
Arizona’s ban against gender reassignment surgery for minors is designed to prevent children from making irreversible decisions they might later regret, adds Ducey. The law applies only to irreversible surgeries and does not prevent the use of hormone therapy in preparation for gender reassignment surgery.
“The irreversible nature of these procedures underscores why such a decision should be made as an adult, not as a child, and further supports the importance of this legislation,” says Ducey.
Speaking to lawmakers last month, State Rep. John Kavanagh (R) compared gender reassignment surgery to genital mutilation – a practice that was banned in Arizona after an unanimous vote in 2014. “We should stand the same way today because this is the mutilation of children,” said Kavanagh. “It is irreversible. It is horrific.”
Opponents insist the decision to make irreversible changes to a child’s body should be the responsibility of parents and doctors.
The third element of the new legislation bans abortion after 15 weeks unless the pregnancy presents a threat to the life or health of the mother. Doctors caught in violation of the law will face a class 6 felony charge and fines up to $10,000. The law carries no punishment for mothers who seek abortion after 15 weeks.
The abortion ban is a “giant step backward for reproductive freedom & women’s equality,” tweeted Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a candidate in the gubernatorial election to replace Ducey. “Governor Ducey’s signing of the extreme & misogynistic abortion ban clarifies the very real & dangerous consequences of electing leaders who are willing to throw away our rights.”
Arizona’s new laws, which received considerable pushback from Democrats and human rights advocates, come as the Supreme Court debates a Mississippi abortion ban that has the potential to reverse Roe v. Wade.
“Governor Ducey has chosen discrimination over protecting the well-being of vulnerable children,” argues Cathryn Oakley, State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel with the civil rights group Human Rights Campaign. “This isn’t leadership, it’s cowardice.”