Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson (R.) said Sunday that he chose to veto a bill that would ban doctors from performing gender transition surgery or offering puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones to minors as a “message of compassion and conservatism.”
In an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, Hutchinson said the veto was the result of his conservative belief in limited government, though other members of his party have criticized his stance, including former President Trump.
Trump called the governor a “lightweight” and a “RINO,” or “Republican in name only,” for rejecting the legislation that Trump said “banned the CHEMICAL CASTRATION OF CHILDREN.”
“Bye-bye Asa, that’s the end of him!” Trump said.
Hutchinson said Sunday that he believes it is important for any political party to have “vigorous debate about an important issue.”
“Let’s get back to our principles. Let’s stop the personality divisions that we have and focus on really the historic role that we played which is a voice for smaller government not bigger government not government solutions but free enterprise solutions,” Hutchinson said.
“It is compassionate to say we care for all our young people, whether they’re trans youth or otherwise, we care for them. And that’s the message of compassion and conservatism that we need to have as a party,” he added.
Arkansas GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the Republican Party should remind itself: "Let's get back to our principles. Let's stop the personality divisions that we have and focus on, really, the historic role that we've played, which is a voice for smaller government." #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/2VxtlPvGfu
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) April 11, 2021
The bill “would put the state as the definitive oracle of medical care, overriding parents, patients, and health care experts,” Hutchinson said earlier this week. “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. This would be, and is, a vast government overreach.”
The Arkansas state legislature later voted to override Hutchinson’s veto.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has vowed to file a lawsuit to stop the bill from being enforced.
Hutchinson’s veto came after he signed another bill earlier this year that banned transgender youths from joining female sports teams.
“In this case I did sign the protection for girls and sports which says biological males cannot compete on a girls team. To me that’s a fundamental way of making sure girls sports can prosper,” Hutchinson said. “But at the same time you’re sending a signal that trans youth does not care and so when that third bill came to me. I said that’s too much and this interferes with patient care, it interferes with parental decisions on an area that the science is continuing to learn more about.”
“We can debate them on conservative principles but let’s show compassion and tolerance and understanding as we do that and that’s the simple message that I think is important for our party,” he added.