- Gov. Asa Hutchinson said discussion about the bill targeting trans youth represented “the future” of the GOP.
- While Hutchinson vetoed the bill, the Arkansas state legislature quickly overturned his decision.
- Hutchinson has received blowback from Republicans, including Trump, for his veto.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, said Sunday the bill targeting healthcare for transgender youth he vetoed last week went “too far” and said the debate over such legislation is key in determining the direction of the GOP.
Hutchinson has been targeted by his own party for vetoing the legislation, including by former President Donald Trump who in a statement called the Arkansas governor a “lightweight RINO.”
“‘Bye-bye Asa,’ that’s the end of him!” Trump said.
But in the interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Hutchinson appeared to laugh off the former president’s comments when confronted with the comments made by him and other Republicans.
“Any time you go against the grain, you’re going to get that kind of blowback,” Hutchinson told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Read: Every anti-trans bill US lawmakers introduced this year, from banning medication to jail time for doctors
As Insider’s Canela López previously reported, Hutchinson last week vetoed the “Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act,” HB 1570. The Arkansas state legislature, dominated by Republicans, overrode Hutchinson’s veto the next day.
The law bans doctors from prescribing trans youth under the age of 18 puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or gender-affirming surgeries. Doctors who provide this care to patients could be charged with a felony under the law.
Advocates warned that the bill posed health risks to trans youth and set a dangerous precedent leading to more anti-trans legislation across the US.
“I think it’s healthy for our society, I think it’s helpful for our party to have that kind of vigorous debate about an important issue. And, to me, this is about the future of our party,” Hutchinson said Sunday.
“Are we going to be a narrow party that expresses ourself in intolerant ways, or are we going to be a broad-based party that shows conservative principles, but also compassion in dealing with some of the most difficult issues that parents face, that individuals face?” he added.
Hutchinson said the legislation went “too far” and said he needed to “remind his wonderful Republican colleagues” that the GOP platform prioritizes a “limited role of government.”
Hutchinson also this year signed another piece of anti-trans legislation into law, prohibiting trans girls from playing on girls sports teams. Advocates said the bill targeted a problem that doesn’t actually exist, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette noted.
Republicans have introduced a wide range of bills targeting trans rights this year in 28 states, Insider previously reported. Bills range from legislation restricting which sports teams trans youth can play on to ones that regulate medical care for trans people.
“I did sign the protection for girls in sports, which says biological males cannot compete on a girls team,” Hutchinson said. “To me, that’s a fundamental way of making sure girls sports can prosper.”
“These are tough areas, tough areas,” he added. “And what we have to do is, 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.”
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