12-Week Abortion Ban Vetoed In Arkansas

12-Week Abortion Ban Vetoed

A 12-week abortion ban was vetoed in Arkansas by Governor Mike Beebe on Monday. The bill would have created the most restrictive abortion ban in the country.

In issuing the veto, Governor Beebe told lawmakers that outlawing the procedure at 12 weeks would be unconstitutional.

The same reasoning was used by Beebe last week when he vetoed a similar bill that put the cut off date on abortions at 20 weeks, reports ABC News.

But lawmakers were able to override the veto. The Democratic governor stated that the Arkansas Legislature was violating the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision from 1973.

The ruling legalized abortion until a fetus could survive outside the womb. The estimate for viability is 22 to 24 weeks. The 12-week abortion ban would outlaw most procedures once a heartbeat can be detected, which is normally around 12 weeks. In is veto letter, Governor Beebe wrote:

“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.”

The Legislature’s first 20-week abortion ban took effect immediately, according to NBC News. But, the new measure would not take effect until 90 days after lawmakers adjourn. They will recess later in March or in early April.

The 12-week abortion ban includes exceptions for rape and incest, medical conditions that wouldn’t let the baby live long after it is born, and circumstances where the mother’s life is in danger. Now that the bill has been vetoed by Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, lawmakers will need a simple majority to override it.

The original measure was introduced by Republican State Senator Jason Rapert. It originally would have criminalized abortion after six weeks. The limit was amended in committee after several protests.

Rapert, the founder of Holy Ghost Ministries, expressed his disappointment when he heard the bill had been vetoed. He stated:

“I’m disappointed for all of the unborn children that could have been saved in this bill, but I have faith that the 70 percent of the Legislature that voted to pass the bill will be there to override this veto.”

Beebe has warned that litigation would cost the state a significant amount of money despite “outside groups” offering to represent the state should it be sued. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has already promised to sue if the 12-week abortion ban’s veto is overridden and the law goes into effect.

[Image by Keith Ingram (Flickr: Governor Mike Beebe) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]