Arkansas Governor Vetoes ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Abortion Ban

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) has vetoed a “fetal heartbeat” bill that would have outlawed abortion services at just 12 weeks of pregnancy, the point when a fetal heartbeat can be detected with an abdominal ultrasound. Because a 12-week ban would go too far to circumvent women’s right to legal abortion services under Roe v. Wade — which protects women’s right to choose until around 24 weeks of pregnancy — Beebe explained that the bill “blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution.”

Nevertheless, the GOP-controlled legislature in the state could override the governor’s veto to enact the unconstitutional law anyway. After Beebe vetoed a 20-week abortion ban last month, state lawmakers used a simple majority to override his veto and ensure that the stringent ban would immediately take effect.

And anti-choice Republicans, who won majorities in both of Arkansas’ chambers in 2012, aren’t stopping there. If they successfully push the heartbeat ban past the governor, the 20-week ban will seem tame in comparison. In that case, Arkansas would earn the unfortunate distinction of having most restrictive abortion ban in the nation.