Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson reversed course on a bill that would ban medical gender transition treatments for minors. Passed by the legislature, and due for a signature on the governor's desk, Hutchinson vetoed the bill. That veto was overridden by the legislature.
Hutchinson conceded to an interview with Tucker Carlson about his reasons for vetoing the bill. The bill, HB-1570, also called the Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act, would have prevented doctors either from performing gender transition surgeries on minors, such as double mastectomies or vaginoplasties, and would also have stopped the application of so-called puberty blockers to children, which can result in sterility.
"I think of you as a conservative, here you've come out publicly pro-choice on the question of chemical castration of children. What changed?" Tucker Carlson asked Hutchinson.
Hutchinson took issues with Carlson's interpretation of the bill, saying "If this had been simply a bill that prevented chemical castration I would have signed the bill." Hutchinson said that the bill was "over-broad, it was extreme." Hutchinson said that he would have signed a bill that simply prevented "gender reassignment surgery" as well.
Hutchinson's issue with the bill was that it positioned the state in between the decision makers in a child's life, such as doctors and parents, and the child. "So this goes way too far, and it doesn't even have a grandfather clause," he said, so that those children who are already undergoing the pharmaceutical treatment of medical gender transition could continue doing it.
Carlson disagreed with Hutchinson, saying that yes, that is chemical castration, and that there are many laws in many states that prevent children from engaging in dangerous behaviors, such as consent laws, and age-restrictions against smoking, drinking, and even getting tattoos. "Why do you think children can block their puberty and be chemically castrated? Why is that a conservative value?"
Hutchinson said instead that conservatives stand for "the limited role of government." Carlson brought up the existing research on this kind of treatment, and the harm it causes to children. But Hutchinson said it's "different from what you're talking about here."
He brought up the High Court decision in the case of UK detransitioner Keira Bell, and took away from that the idea that limited role of government is more important than these protections.
"This is [a bill] that crosses the line. There's no need for it and it doesn't justify itself," Hutchinson said.
Carlson pressed the issue of Hutchinson's level of information on the issue. And Hutchinson replied with the notion that children who suffer from gender dysphoria are more likely to hurt themselves if they are not given the drugs they request. "They try to deal with this very serious issue, we shouldn't deny them healthcare," he said. He could not answer the question as to whether treatment helps those feelings of depression.
Hutchinson cited the American Academy of Pediatrics and tried to cite endocrinologists, but instead simply cited the "physicians who came out in opposition to this bill, because they understood the risks to these young people." Hutchinson said that children would be more harmed by not taking the drugs than by taking them. The field, however, of gender transition in children is very recently created.
Carlson suggested that Hutchinson may be influenced by corporate interests in the state, such as Tyson or Walmart, and made it clear that he does not believe Hutchinson has any idea what he's talking about.
Hutchinson, instead, spoke about the importance of the limited roll of government. "These are different decisions," Hutchinson said, noting that he'd rather listen to experts than legislators. It does force the question of why there are any behaviors of children that are regulated by the state. If they can chemically castrate themselves, why can't they get tattoos?
That's not Hutchinson's take, instead, is that "we don't have to be involved in every issue. He thinks this isn't the right bill "to interfere with parents and doctors decisions on a health care matter, as you pointed out, doesn't have thorough research in every area. And so, I yield to that."
"You yield to the lack of research?" Carlson asked.