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).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.