The Arkansas legislature has overridden Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of legislation banning most abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy, giving the state the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. The March 6 override comes just days after the Republican-controlled legislature overrode Beebe's veto of its Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which prohibits most abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Beebe had justified his vetoes of both measures on constitutional grounds, saying that they conflicted with the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that effectively legalized abortion until a pre-born baby can viably survive outside the mother's womb, which most experts place at between 22 to 24 weeks. “Because it would impose a ban on a woman’s right to choose an elective, nontherapeutic abortion well before viability, Senate Bill 134 blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court,” Beebe said in a letter vetoing the 12-week bill. “When I was sworn in as governor I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend both the Arkansas Constitution and the Constitution of the United States. I take that oath seriously.”
Known as the “Heartbeat Protection Act,” SB 134, which is slated to go into effect this summer, the bill will prohibit abortions at a point when a pre-born baby's heartbeat can typically be detected with an ultrasound. As with the “Pain-Capable” bill, which is based on the scientific proof that a pre-born baby can feel pain by the 20th week of pregnancy, the 12-week ban will include exemptions in cases of rape, incest, or to supposedly save the life of the mother.
Pro-abortion forces vowed to sue the state to overturn the 12-week ban. “The Arkansas Legislature has once again disregarded women’s health care and passed the most extreme anti-women’s health bill in the country,” said Jill June, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. “With this bill, the Arkansas Legislature will force many women to seek unsafe care.”
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