Last month, the Arkansas House and Senate chose to override Governor Mike Beebe’s veto of a bill that banned abortions after 20 weeks, due to the baby’s ability to feel pain. Another bill also banned abortions after 12 weeks, which is usually when the heartbeat can be heard in an ultrasound. The governor vetoed that bill as well, but the legislature, in a bipartisan effort, just voted to override his veto again, giving Arkansas the strictest abortion laws in the country.
In the sharpest challenge yet to Roe v. Wade, Arkansas adopted Wednesday what is by far the country’s most restrictive ban on abortion, at 12 weeks of pregnancy, around the time that a fetal heartbeat can be detected by abdominal ultrasound.
The law was passed by the newly Republican-controlled legislature over the veto of Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, who called it “blatantly unconstitutional.” On Tuesday the state Senate voted to override his veto by a vote of 20 to 14; on Wednesday the House enacted the bill into law by a vote of 55 to 33, with several Democrats joining the Republican majority.
Not only will abortions be banned after 12 weeks, but an abortion cannot be performed if a heartbeat is detected at all, regardless of how far into the pregnancy the woman is. There are exceptions for rape, for incest, to save the mother’s life, and for fetal abnormalities.
This law will go into effect this summer. It is, however, likely to be challenged in court by pro-abortion activists.