Tucker Carlson criticized Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson for vetoing a bill that would have banned youth gender reassignment surgeries, saying Tuesday night that Hutchinson is “pro-choice for chemical castration.”
The Arkansas legislature recently passed a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing puberty blockers to children or performing gender reassignment surgery on children who believe they are transgender. But the state’s Republican governor announced Monday that he would veto the bill, describing it as a “vast government overreach.” (RELATED: Here’s How Media Framed An Arkansas Bill Banning Trans Surgeries, Procedures For Minors)
“I think of you as a conservative,” Carlson said. “Here you have come out publicly as pro-choice on the question of chemical castration of children. What changed?”
Hutchinson said that Carlson’s characterization of the bill was incorrect because it went “far beyond” banning chemical castration of children.
“This bill was extreme,” the governor said. “And if it clear that this was about prohibiting procedures of sex reassignment surgery, absolutely, I would have signed that bill.”
“But this was the first law in the nation that invokes the state between medical decisions, parents who consent to that, and the decision of the patient,” Hutchinson continued. “And so, this goes way too far.”
The governor said that one of his issues with the bill was that it doesn’t have a “grandfather clause” that would allow children who are already taking puberty blockers to continue taking them.
“This is chemical castration, of course – if you stop puberty and suppress the sex hormones, you are chemically castrating,” Carlson told the governor. “We are talking about minors, children here.”
The Fox News host said that there are many things that children in Arkansas and around the country are not allowed to do, like get married, drink a beer, or get a tattoo. Carlson asked how “chemical castration” is a “conservative value.”
“First of all, you have parents involved in very difficult decisions. You have physicians that are involved in these decisions,” the Arkansas governor said. “And I go back to William Buckley. I go back to Ronald Reagan. The possibles of our party, which believes in the limited role of government.”
Carlson said that although there is not a lot of research on the topic because it is an emerging field, there is evidence showing that a side effect of the hormones is suicidal ideation and the urge to self-harm. ‘Why is that responsible medicine to do that to children?” Carlson asked. “Why would you support something like that?” (RELATED: Arkansas Legislature Defies Governor, Becomes First State To Ban Trans Surgeries For Minors)
Hutchinson said that he reviewed that study and spent a lot of time talking to experts, faith leaders, and meeting with people. He said that he is a “person of faith” but also “a person of the limited role of government.”
“I signed pro-life bills,” he added. “I signed many bills that would be looked at as very conservative. But this is one that crosses the line. There is no need for it.”
When Carlson pressed him on what research he had seen, Hutchinson referred to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the physicians who came out in opposition to the bill. The Fox News host also asked the governor if he had spoken to any corporate interests in regards to the bill, which Hutchinson denied.
“Let me just say, governor, with respect, I am skeptical that not a single corporation in the state of Arkansas has weighed in with you one way or the other on this bill,” Carlson noted. “I am skeptical.” Hutchinson reiterated that he had not spoken with any corporations.
Carlson responded by asking why we don’t allow 18-year-olds to drink beers or allow minors to get tattoos or get married.
“You have vetoed a bill that would have protected children – not adults – children from a life-altering permanent procedure that has effects we can only guess at,” Carlson added. “But the early indication is they are very serious and very negative in some cases. And now you are telling me – why are we preventing kids from getting married or drinking, having sex? They are not old enough to have sex but they are old enough to be chemically castrated?”
Hutchinson said that “these are difficult decisions” that should be left to “medical professionals” and “medical counselors.”
Hutchinson also said that he would have “signed that bill in a minute” if it was just about gender reassignment surgery, but the fact that it cut off less than 200 Arkansas kids from the hormone treatment that they are currently on does not treat “those kids or their parents or their health care providers fairly or equally.”
“All right. That is the conservative position,” Carlson said.