The Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday voted 19-14 to override Beebe's veto, following a successful override vote in the Republican-controlled House on Wednesday. In Arkansas, legislators can override a veto with a simple majority.
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 (Parker, Reuters, 2/28).
Arkansas is the eighth state to ban abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy, following Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska and North Carolina (Blake, Washington Post, 2/28).
Rita Sklar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said the law is unconstitutional. "The Supreme Court has upheld voluntary abortions up to the point of viability -- 20 weeks is pre-viability," she said (Reuters, 2/28).
Legislature Passes 12-Week Ban
Also on Thursday, the Arkansas Senate gave final approval to a measure (SB 134) that would ban abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy if a fetal heartbeat is detectable, Politico reports. The bill now goes to Beebe for his consideration.
If the measure becomes law, Arkansas would have the earliest abortion ban in the country. The measure would allow exceptions for rape, incest, to save the life of the woman and for fatal fetal disorders.
Abortion-rights groups urged Beebe to reject the bill. Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said, "This extreme legislation would insert politics into women's personal medical decisions, and we urge Gov. Beebe to veto it immediately."
Talcott Camp, deputy director of ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, added, "Lawmakers in Arkansas are placing women's lives on the line by passing the most severe ban on access to safe, legal medical care this country has seen in recent years" (Smith, Politico, 2/28).
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