On April 6, the Arkansas State Legislature voted to override a veto by Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson to pass the SAFE act. This bill prohibits gender-transitioning procedures for minors. This includes puberty-blockers, hormone treatments, and surgical procedures.
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post Governor Hutchinson explained why he vetoed the bill. “I believe there are some issues where the stakes are so high that government must play a role in private life… I vetoed this bill because it creates new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents… While in some instances the state must act to protect life, the state should not presume to jump into the middle of every medical, human and ethical issue.” The governor appears to argue from the principle of subsidiarity.
In Catholic Social Teaching the principle of subsidiarity teaches that human affairs should be handled at the lowest possible level. For example, parents should raise their children, not the government. The government should not intervene to attempt to alleviate all problems.
In the bill above, does subsidiarity prevent state intervention? No. Subsidiarity exists within the framework of the common good. The common good is the “sum total of social conditions which allow people to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.” Hence the government may intervene to preserve the common good when lower orders can no longer maintain it. The common good includes the truth that a person’s biological sex cannot be changed.
Will this bill reverse the troubling trend of gender ideology across the country? Hard to say. But is it government overreach? No.