Ark. Gov. Vetoes 20-Week Abortion Ban

February 27, 2013 — Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) on Tuesday vetoed a bill (HB 1037) that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, although the Legislature could override his decision, the AP/New York Times reports (AP/New York Times, 2/26). The measure would have allowed exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to save a woman's life.

Beebe said the legislation, if enacted, "would impose a ban on a woman's right to choose an elective, nontherapeutic abortion before viability," which would "squarely contradict Supreme Court precedent" (Parker, Reuters, 2/26).

Possible Override Vote

State Rep. Andy Mayberry (R), who sponsored the bill, said he would seek a vote to override the veto (AP/New York Times, 2/26). Arkansas law requires a simple majority to override a governor's veto; the measure passed the House in an 80-10 vote and the Senate by 25-7.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland President and CEO Jill June said in a statement, "This veto sends a message to the Arkansas Legislature that lawmakers need to quit focusing on unconstitutional abortion bans that are dangerous for Arkansas women."

According to Reuters, seven states have laws that restrict or ban abortion after 20 weeks, often based on the disputed claim that a fetus can feel pain at that point in development. Similar laws in Arizona and Georgia are facing legal challenges (Reuters, 2/26).