LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe on Monday vetoed legislation banning most abortions 12 weeks into pregnancy, rejecting what opponents said would be the most restrictive abortion ban in the U.S.
The legislation would ban the procedure at 12 weeks if a fetal heartbeat is detected using an abdominal ultrasound. The Democratic governor’s veto come less than a week after the state enacted a 20-week ban. That restriction went into effect after the Legislature overrode another veto by Beebe.
Beebe’s objections to the 12-week ban echoed those he had to the 20-week ban. He said the 12-week ban contradicts the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion until a fetus could survive outside the womb. A fetus is generally considered viable at 22 to 24 weeks.
“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,” 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.”
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The Republican-led Legislature approved the measure last week. The sponsor said he would ask the Senate to override Beebe’s veto of the 12-week ban Tuesday. It takes a simple majority of the House and Senate to override a governor’s veto. Republicans hold 21 of the 35 Senate seats and 51 of the 100 House seats.