The Arkansas legislature voted Wednesday to override Governor Mike Beebe's [official website] recent veto of the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act [Act 301, PDF; materials], which bans abortions "of an unborn human individual whose heartbeat has been detected ... and is twelve (12) weeks or greater gestation." In a letter [official statement] accompanying his veto [JURIST report] of the 12-week ban, Beebe said he decided to attempt to block the bill because he believes it "blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court." Both the Arkansas Senate and House of Representatives [official websites] voted to override the veto, giving Arkansas the most restrictive abortion laws in the US. The Act provides exemptions for instances of rape, incest, major fetal conditions and when the mother's life is in danger. Doctors who perform abortions in violation of the Act are to have their licenses revoked. Pro-choice advocates, such as Planned Parenthood [official website], called Wednesday "truly ... a sad day for Arkansas women," and promised [press release] to "continue to fight these bills and stand up women in Arkansas."
Wednesday's vote comes only six days after lawmakers voted to override the governor's veto [JURIST reports] of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act [HB 1037, PDF] which bans most abortions in the state 20 weeks after conception. That law made Arkansas the eighth US state to ban or restrict abortions after 20 weeks. Similar laws restricting reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] are currently facing legal challenges in Arizona and Georgia [JURIST reports].