Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe on Tuesday vetoed a ban on most abortions in Arkansas at 20 weeks into a pregnancy, setting up an override fight with a Republican-controlled Legislature that has been pushing for more restrictions on the procedure.
Beebe said he vetoed the ban, which is based on the disputed belief that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, because it runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion until the point where fetuses can survive outside the womb, usually at 22 to 24 weeks. The Republican sponsor of the measure said he’ll seek to override Beebe’s veto.
“Because it would impose a ban on a woman’s right to choose an elective, nontherapeutic abortion before viability, House Bill 1037, if it became law, would squarely contradict Supreme Court precedent,” Beebe said in his veto letter. “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.”