Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe (D) vetoed a bill that would have banned abortion after a heart beat was detected with a standard ultrasound – usually around 12 weeks – on Monday.
In a statement, Governor Beebe said “In short, because it would impose a ban on a woman’s right to choose an elective, nontherapeutic abortion well before viability, Senate Bill 134 blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court. When I was sworn in as governor I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend both the Arkansas Constitution and the Constitution of the United States. I take that oath seriously.”
Senate Bill 134, or the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act, includes exemptions for rape, incest, life of the mother and severe fetal abnormalities. Despite that, if the state legislature overrides Beebe’s veto and the bill becomes law, it will be the most restrictive abortion ban in the country. A simple majority is needed in both the state Senate and state House to override the governor’s veto. A vote to override the veto is expected to go before the legislature this week.
Last week, the Arkansas Senate voted to override Governor Beebe’s veto of a bill that bans abortion at twenty weeks. The Senate voted 19 to 14 in favor of overriding the veto following a House approving the veto override by 53 to 28 on Wednesday. The passage of the bill makes Arkansas the tenth state to outlaw abortions after 20 weeks. Beebe vetoed the bill on claims that it was also unconstitutional.