Arkansas legislators really, really want to be the state with the most
restrictive unconstitutional abortion law in the country.
The Arkansas House on Wednesday voted to override Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto of a bill that would ban most abortions from the 12th week of pregnancy onward, giving the state the country’s most restrictive abortion laws and setting the stage for a certain court challenge.
A day after the Republican-led state Senate voted to override Beebe’s veto, the GOP-controlled House voted 56-33 to do the same. Only a simple majority was needed in each chamber.
The vote comes less than a week after the Legislature voted to override the governor’s veto of a separate bill banning most abortions starting in the 20th week of pregnancy. That bill took effect immediately after the final override vote, whereas the 12-week ban wouldn’t take effect until this summer.
Similar to Ohio’s so-called “heartbeat bill” that died a couple years ago, Arkansas’s ban prohibits abortions after the fetus’ heartbeat can be detected. As I reported in January, originally it would have made the cut-off at six weeks, but it was amended so that it would only require an abdominal ultrasound, not a transvaginal one.
While both the 12-week and 20-week bans are equally unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade, the former will have a bigger impact if it’s allowed to go into effect. As Sarah Kliff points out, while the vast majority of abortions take place in the first trimester, at 12-week ban would outlaw one in every 10 abortions in the state.