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Arkansas Senate overrides veto on abortion bill

By ANDREW DeMILLO The Associated Press

This article was originally published February 28, 2013 at 9:16 a.m. Updated February 28, 2013 at 10:42 a.m.

rep-andy-mayberry-r-hensley-straightens-his-tie-before-speaking-to-reporters-in-a-hallway-outside-the-senate-chamber-at-the-arkansas-state-capitol-in-little-rock-on-thursday-feb-28-2013-the-senate-voted-thursday-to-override-gov-mike-beebes-veto-of-mayberrys-bill-banning-most-abortions-starting-in-the-20th-week-a-day-after-the-state-house-voted-to-override-it

Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, straightens his tie before speaking to reporters in a hallway outside the Senate chamber at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. The Senate voted Thursday to override Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of Mayberry's bill banning most abortions starting in the 20th week, a day after the state House voted to override it.

How senators voted on the 20-weeks bill

YES: 19

Republicans (19): Bledsoe, Caldwell, Clark, Dismang, English, Hendren, Hester, Hickey, Holland, Hutchinson, Irvin, Key, King, Lamoureux, Sample, Sanders, Stubblefield, Williams, Woods

NO: 14

Democrats (14): Bookout, Burnett, Cheatham, Chesterfield, Elliott, Flowers, Ingram, Johnson, Lindsey, Maloch, Pierce, Teague, Thompson, Wyatt

NOT VOTING: 2

Republicans (2): Files, Rapert.

FILE - In this file photo taken Feb. 7, 2011, Sen. Michael Lamoureux, R-Russellville, speaks during a legislative committee meeting at the Arkansas st...

— The Arkansas Senate voted Thursday to override a veto of a near-ban of abortions starting in the 20th week of pregnancy and backed a separate measure that would outlaw the procedures in most cases beginning in the 12th week.

The Republican-led Senate voted 19-14 along party lines to override Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto of the 20-week bill, a day after the GOP-led state House voted to override it. A simple majority was required in each chamber.

That law, which took effect immediately, is based on the contested claim that fetuses can feel pain by that point.

Senate President Michael Lamoureux, R-Russellville, supported an override but told reporters afterward he was unsure whether the ban would survive a constitutional challenge.

“If it was an easy answer, then people wouldn’t be raising that subject,” he said after the vote.

Minutes after overriding Beebe’s veto, the Senate’s voted 26-8 in support of the measure that would outlaw most abortions starting in the 12th week of pregnancy, sending it to Beebe for consideration. He must decide by next week whether to sign or veto it.

Rita Sklar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said she was disappointed with the Senate’s override and said her group was now looking at suing the state over the new restriction.

“We are going to do everything within our power to protect the health and reproductive decision-making abilities of women and in this case that includes looking very carefully at litigation,” she said.

Beebe said he thinks the new law contradicts the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion until a fetus can viably survive outside of the womb, which is typically at 22 to 24 weeks. He said the state will waste money trying to defend it.

Sen. Bruce Maloch, D-Magnolia, previously voted for the 20-week ban but said he voted against the override out of deference to Beebe and the concerns the governor raised over the measure’s constitutionality.

“These bills are a real dilemma for people who are pro-life, but still there are constitutional concerns. It does really tear at you,” Maloch said.

Sen. Larry Teague, D-Nashville, who voted for the 20-week ban initially but opposed the override, had similar concerns.

“The budget’s tight. We’re working on giving businesses and individuals some tax relief. I don’t think it makes sense to spend money on expensive litigation,” said Teague, who is a co-chairman of the budget committee.

The near ban of abortions starting in the 20th week of pregnancy is based on the disputed claim that a fetus can feel pain by then and therefore deserves protection from abortion.

Seven states have enacted similar 20-week restrictions based on the fetal pain argument, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks laws affecting women’s health. A similar law in Arizona has been blocked while a federal appeals court reviews a lawsuit challenging it.

The Arkansas bill is based on research the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Andy Mayberry, and other abortion opponents cite that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, however, says it knows of no legitimate scientific information supporting the idea that a fetus experiences pain.

The 12-week bill is based on the argument that a fetus should be protected from abortion once its heartbeat can be detected during an abdominal ultrasound. The governor has not said whether he’ll veto the bill but said earlier that he has constitutional concerns with the measure.

Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, the sponsor of the 12-week ban, said Beebe should let the measure go into law without his signature.

“I respect his opinions and what he has to do as an individual, but I believe he should honor the vote of the Legislature,” Rapert told reporters after the vote.

Comments on: Arkansas Senate overrides veto on abortion bill

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Walklady says... February 28, 2013 at 9:35 a.m.

Tell me WHY a woman who gets pregnant by rape or incest, OR has a fetus with abnormalities should be forced to go thru the pregnancy? And then there are women who do use protection, and end up with an unwanted pregnancy. IT IS NOT YOUR BUSINESS IF IT IS HER CHOICE TO END THE PREGNANCY. This religious mentality is ridiculous.

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gwen9 says... February 28, 2013 at 9:42 a.m.

It's not a religious mentality Walklady......It has to do with MURDER of an unborn HUMAN BEING!!! Geez..... The "female" is not the only one with rights here! How bout the father and the UNBORN BABY??

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Pacorabone says... February 28, 2013 at 9:47 a.m.

It's easy to support abortion if you AREN'T the one being murdered. Thank God for the members of our legislature who have the courage to stand up for LIFE. And may God have mercy on those who support the death industry of abortion.

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ddasm307311122 says... February 28, 2013 at 9:50 a.m.

thank you gwen9

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faytown says... February 28, 2013 at 9:52 a.m.

neither religious nor political beliefs are relevant. bottom line our idiot lawmakers just created a law they know is invalid due to the long held ruling of the us supreme court. it is a total waste of time, money and is political pandering at its worst

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HOG65 says... February 28, 2013 at 9:56 a.m.

Both of your arguments are meritorious, BUT, the Governor's prediction of a long, expensive legal battle will prove true, as will his prediction that this law will be determined unconstitutional.

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Walklady says... February 28, 2013 at 10:03 a.m.

Thank you faytown & Hog 65. This whole issue is fraud, waste and abuse of the taxpayers money!

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HappytobeHere says... February 28, 2013 at 10:07 a.m.

I think that if everyone who is pushing so hard to make decisions for everyone else were forced to raise & pay for several of these unwanted or handicapped children, they would be shutting the heck up on the issue of abortion. How can you be so interested in reducing social funding and keep fighting this issue? The abortion issue has been settled several times by the federal courts. Why are our so-called smart legistrators still beating this dead horse? I guess they have buddies who are attorneys who will get richer from our tax dollars to fight this in court again.

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HotSpringsLawyer says... February 28, 2013 at 10:11 a.m.

Just recognizing that it is time to put these uppity women and their "rights" back in the proper (subservient) place.

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PapeJoe says... February 28, 2013 at 10:21 a.m.

Stats show the ratio of abortion is the same in countries (even third world nations) where it is against the law as it is in counties where it is legal. This being the case, should we not be pursuing other avenues to help elevate this situation?

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