Arkansas Senate Overrides Mike Beebe's Veto of 12-Week Abortion Ban

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2013 2:13 pm  

The measure is among several abortion restrictions lawmakers have backed since Republicans won control of the House and Senate in the November election. Republicans hold 21 of the 35 Senate seats, and 51 of the 100 seats in the House.

Beebe has signed into law one of those measures - a prohibition on most abortion coverage by insurers participating in the exchange created under the federal health care overhaul.

If ultimately approved, the 12-week restriction wouldn't take effect until 90 days after the House and Senate adjourn. Lawmakers aren't expected to wrap up this year's session until later this month or April.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has vowed to sue if the state enacts the 12-week ban - and the group said it was considering legal action over the 20-week restriction as well. Planned Parenthood has called the 12-week ban the nation's most restrictive anti-abortion law.

"I think we're one step closer to the most intrusive abortion law in the country and it sets Arkansas back decades in public perception in the minds of other people: potential employers, businesses and people who might want to move here," said Rita Sklar, the ACLU of Arkansas' executive director.

The original version of Rapert's bill would have banned abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, but he changed the measure after facing resistance from some lawmakers worried that it would require a vaginal probe.

Women who have abortions would not face prosecution under Rapert's bill, but doctors who perform abortions in violation of the 12-week ban could have their medical licenses revoked.

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