The Arkansas legislature overturned Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto of a 20-week abortion ban on Thursday, which will likely provide the impetus for legal challenges. The legislature also passed an even more restrictive 12-week abortion ban, which Beebe is also expected to veto, according to the Washington Post.
“Most people in Arkansas and across America know that abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a woman to make. Politicians should not be involved in a woman’s personal medical decisions about her pregnancy,” said Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards in a statement.
The Arkansas House overturned the governor’s veto on Wednesday and the Senate overturned the veto on Thursday.
Though the bill was initially passed by the Arkansas House with no exceptions, the final bill includes provisions that allow rape and incest victims to obtain abortions, as well as exceptions for the mother’s life and health. However, many pro-choice activists decry such “exceptions” due to the fact that rape and incest is often under-reported.
Similar 20-week bans have been passed in Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska and North Carolina, but both Arizona and Georgia’s bans have been suspended while the courts review them. Arizona’s 20-week ban drew attention for changing the typical definition of gestational age, making its ban about two weeks earlier than other state bans.
These bills all run counter to the gestational ages outlined for potential bans in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which put the cutoff at 24 weeks, and 1992′s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which put the cutoff at 22 weeks.
Update: Statement from the Center for Reproductive Rights below
“Bans on abortion at 20 weeks are as cruel as they are unconstitutional, and profoundly interfere in the doctor-patient relationship. It attempts to create ‘one-size-fits-all’ legislation for women’s health, failing to take into account women’s highly individual medical needs and circumstances,” said Julie Rikelman, litigation director at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The governor was right to reject this unconstitutional bill, but the legislature decided to ignore women’s health and take additional action to enact the law despite his veto.”
Kay Steiger is the managing editor of Raw Story. Her contributions have appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic, Campus Progress, The Guardian, In These Times, Jezebel, Religion Dispatches, RH Reality Check, and others. You can follow her on Twitter @kaysteiger.
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