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Senate votes to override 12-week abortion veto

By Lee Hogan

This article was originally published March 5, 2013 at 1:49 p.m. Updated March 5, 2013 at 5:10 p.m.


Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, arrives to the Senate floor Tuesday before a vote to override Senate Bill 134, sponsored by Rapert.

Senate votes to override 12-week abortion veto

The Arkansas Senate voted 20-14 in favor of overriding Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of Senate Bill 134, which would ban most abortions after 12 weeks of gestation. The bill now goes to the House for another override vote. (By Lee Hogan)
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Arkansas lawmakers took the first step in overriding a veto from Gov. Mike Beebe on Tuesday, as the Senate voted 20-14 in favor of a bill banning abortions after 12 weeks of gestation.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, said while "partisan divide" was evident in Tuesday's vote, which was closer than the previous Senate vote of 26-8 to help the bill get to Beebe's desk, he was not worried about his bill not making it through the House vote.

Rapert said he spoke with House members earlier Tuesday who said they would support the bill in the override vote. Rapert said he has asked legislators to vote the same as the first time his bill came through.

"In this state, if you're going to have a baby that is killed in the mother's womb, and they're able to be prosecuted, it makes perfect sense that you're going to protect the life of that child in any other instance," he said.

Senate Bill 134 was the second abortion-ban bill Beebe has vetoed in as many weeks.

The first bill, House Bill 1037, sponsored by Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, was vetoed by Beebe on Feb. 26. That bill was intended to ban abortions after 20 weeks' gestation, with some exceptions.

Arkansas legislators were successful in overriding the veto by gaining simple majorities in the House, 53-28, and the Senate, 19-14.

Beebe said last week that Rapert's 12-week ban was the "more problematic" of the abortion ban bills.

In his veto letter Monday, Beebe said Rapert's bill would, "impose a ban on a woman's right to choose an elective, nontherapeutic abortion well before viability."

Beebe said that Senate Bill 134 would "blatantly" violate the United States Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade. The court ruling has allowed women to have abortions up to the point of fetal viability, which is somewhere between 22 and 24 weeks. He also said he took an oath as governor to "preserve, protect and defend both the Arkansas Constitution and the Constitution of the United States."

"I take that oath seriously," he said in the letter.

"Abortion is governed by case law," Rapert said Tuesday. "When people say they took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the Arkansas Constitution, the only oath that they're breaking is upholding the Arkansas Constitution if they don't vote for this bill, because the Arkansas Constitution says that we will protect life in Arkansas from the moment of conception."

Under the category of abortion, the Arkansas Constitution states the policy of the state is "to protect the life of every unborn child from conception until birth, to the extent permitted by the Federal Constitution."

Beebe also cited potential litigation costs to Arkansas taxpayers if Senate Bill 134 became law.

Bettina Brownstein, an attorney with the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the group would file a suit against Rapert's bill if it becomes law.

Brownstein echoed Beebe's concerns with the bill that is unconstitutional.

Rapert said "threats" from the ACLU did not concern him, and also said potential litigation costs were a "hypothetical" and an "unknown."

"It's funny how (the ACLU) is always willing to take up for murderers, but they're not willing to take up for human lives," Rapert said. "The fact of the matter is, this bill saves lives."

Rapert said there are national firms that are willing to take the case for free. Beebe mentioned the possibility of free representation in his veto letter, but said that since he believes the state would lose the battle in court, it would "only lessen the state's own litigation costs."

"Lawsuits challenging unconstitutional laws also result in the losing party, in this case the state, being ordered to pay the costs and attorneys' fees incurred by the litigants who successfully challenge the law," Beebe said.

Read more in Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


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ToTheLeft says... March 5, 2013 at 2:10 p.m.

Rapert and Mayberry need to mind their own business. There are certainly more pressing issues than controlling a woman's body. Rapert and Mayberry, you are no better than the Taliban. Think about that. Your male-dominance attitudes disgust me.

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ahelms says... March 5, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.

And the march from a progressive state to a regressive state continues.

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VoteRepublican says... March 5, 2013 at 2:26 p.m.

ToTheLeft: Be Thankful your parents didnt believe in abortion and for that anyone else that supports abortion. Because if your parents did then you might have not been here to voice your opinion....oh but wait any unborn child who before this 20 week and hopefully 12 week ban as many call it was ripped from their mothers womb arm, then arm, and leg by leg only to feel the pain of death before they took their first breath. Shame on you for making life a convinence and not shifting the responsibilites on the parents to take the act of sex a little more seriously and use some common sense. On another note because we make it harder for the women to have abortions then it sould be harder on the man to not be at minimal more finacially responsible or more strict rules on those that dont pay child support.

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jeffieboy says... March 5, 2013 at 2:28 p.m.

You can't legislate morality without making a lot of people upset. This is no way to move forward and get anything important done. I wish this new crop of politicians would start doing their jobs in terms of their civil responsibilities and leave their religious beliefs out of it. There is nothing more dangerous than mixing the pulpit and the throne. What's the matter with them?

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jeffieboy says... March 5, 2013 at 2:34 p.m.

If these new conservative republicans (the first to control stuff since reconstruction) don't learn to move more to the middle where things might be a little more paletable for progressives they will do the exact same thing as Obama from the opposite side. Divide the people of the state. Where can we find some politicians that can find a place somewhere in the middle? That's where most Blue Dogs and Moderate Coservatives actually are. Opposition to progressive liberalism gone overboard is what got them elected. Running radically to the right will surely get them tossed if they aren't careful.

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edo1962 says... March 5, 2013 at 2:38 p.m.

Arkansas is making progress.

( | suggest removal ) says... March 5, 2013 at 2:47 p.m.

Thank you Senators for standing up For life these infants who cannot defend themselves against these murders.

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Daddyjim says... March 5, 2013 at 2:51 p.m.

This is an awful decision by the my fellow Arkansans. I can almost 100% assure you that if the men that voted for this bill could get pregnant they would all vote for abortion. It is insulting to me in this day and age that we are still fighting over anyone's right to choose. I'll tell you what, let's make it illegal to have a vasectomy. Let's make it illegal to have corrective surgery. If it not going to kill you hell no need to fix it. I'll tell you what let's take away all of our rights to make any decision at all. That is democracy in action. Good Lord please help us and save us from all of this stupidity in the great state of Arkansas.

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rainbowharold55 says... March 5, 2013 at 2:52 p.m.

Mayberry and rapert continue their march against women. And remember, if you don't agree with the gospel according to jason rapert, you aren't a Christian.

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ARMind says... March 5, 2013 at 2:57 p.m.

This is all about lack of love on both sides of the parties of conception. Here are the reasons with having an abortion. Legislatures can not change this by enforcing a law that is one sided. There has to be punishment for the man as well.
Below is a breakdown of women's responses that specified reasons that led to their abortion decision (percentage total will not add up to 100% as multiple answers were permissible):

74% felt "having a baby would dramatically change my life" (which includes interrupting education, interfering with job and career, and/or concern over other children or dependents)
73% felt they "can't afford a baby now" (due to various reasons such as being unmarried, being a student, inability to afford childcare or basic needs of life, etc.)
48% "don't want to be a single mother or [were] having relationship problem[s]"
38% "have completed [their] childbearing"
32% were "not ready for a(nother) child"
25% "don't want people to know I had sex or got pregnant"
22% "don't feel mature enough to raise a(nother) child"
14% felt their "husband or partner wants me to have an abortion"
13% said there were "possible problems affecting the health of the fetus"
12% said there were "physical problems with my health"
6% felt their "parents want me to have an abortion"
1% said they were "a victim of rape"
<0.5% "became pregnant as a result of incest"

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