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Ark. Legislature Overrides Gov.'s Veto of 20-Week Abortion Ban, Passes 12-Week Ban

Ark. Legislature Overrides Gov.'s Veto of 20-Week Abortion Ban, Passes 12-Week Ban

March 4, 2013 — The Arkansas Legislature has overturned Gov. Mike Beebe's (D) veto of a bill (HB 1037) that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, Reuters reports.

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).