February 28, 2013 — The Arkansas House on Wednesday voted to override Gov. Mike Beebe's (D) veto of a bill (HB 1037) that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the AP/New York Times reports (AP/New York Times, 2/27). The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to vote to override the veto on Thursday (Parker, Reuters, 2/27).
The legislation is promoted based on the disputed claim that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. Beebe vetoed the bill because he said it contradicts Roe v. Wade (AP/New York Times, 2/27).
Matt DeCample, Beebe's spokesperson, said, "We made the best case we could in our veto letter and explained the legal problems with the law and what that could cost our people."
The measure includes exceptions for cases of rape, incest or to save a woman's life. It does not include exemptions for fatal fetal disorders.
If the full Legislature votes to overturn the veto, Arkansas would become the eighth state to ban or restrict abortion at 20 weeks. Similar measures are facing legal challenges in Arizona and Georgia.
Jill June, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said, "It's disheartening that our lawmakers are knowingly passing an unconstitutional abortion ban for the sake of politics" (Reuters, 2/27).
Stricter Abortion Ban Looming in Senate
Meanwhile, the state Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Wednesday voted 5-2 to advance legislation (SB 134) that would ban most abortions at 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration (AP/New York Times, 2/27). If enacted, the measure -- which would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detectable with a standard ultrasound -- would be the most stringent abortion restriction in the country, according to opponents of the bill (Reuters, 2/27).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership