Ark. lawmakers override veto, ban most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy

The state House on Wednesday followed the Senate in overriding Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of the measure. Opponents say the law "would blatantly violate" the Constitution and plan to challenge it in court.

The New York Times: Arkansas Adopts A Ban On Abortions After 12 Weeks
The law, the sharpest challenge yet to Roe v. Wade, was passed by the newly Republican-controlled legislature over the veto of Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, who called it "blatantly unconstitutional." The State Senate voted Tuesday to override his veto and the House followed suit on Wednesday, with several Democrats joining the Republican majority (Eckholm, 3/6).

The Wall Street Journal: Arkansas Abortion Law Is Now Nation's Strictest
The move will face stiff legal challenges. Mr. Beebe, who supports abortion rights but has backed some restrictions, said a series of Supreme Court decisions had established that states couldn't ban abortions carried out before a fetus becomes viable, or able to survive outside the womb. He said the proposed bill "would blatantly violate the United States Constitution" (Radnofsky, 3/6).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Ark. Adopts U.S.'s Most Restrictive Abortion Law, A Near-Ban Starting In 12th Week Of Pregnancy
Lawmakers in the Republican-dominated Legislature defied Gov. Mike Beebe, overriding the Democrat's veto. The House voted 56-33 on Wednesday to override Beebe's veto, a day after the Senate voted to do the same. The votes come less than a week after the Legislature overrode a veto of a separate bill banning most abortions starting in the 20th week of pregnancy. That bill took effect immediately after the final override vote, whereas the 12-week ban won't take effect until this summer (3/7).

Politico: Legal Fight Brewing Over Strict Arkansas Abortion Law
Abortion rights groups said they plan to challenge it in court within the next few weeks and predicted it would be easily overturned as the 12-week limit flies in the face Supreme Court precedent established in Roe v. Wade (Smith, 3/6).

In the meantime, a federal judge in Idaho has struck down a law in that state that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Federal Judge Strikes Down Idaho's 2011 Law Banning Abortions After 20 Weeks
A federal judge has struck down Idaho's law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on beliefs held by physicians and others that the fetus is able to feel pain at that point (3/6).

Reuters: Federal Judge Strikes Down Idaho Ban On Late-Term Abortions
A federal judge on Wednesday struck down a 2011 Idaho law that banned most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, in a decision believed to mark the first time a court has ruled that such a measure was unconstitutional. Idaho is one of at least eight states that have enacted late-term abortion prohibitions in recent years based on controversial medical research suggesting that a fetus feels pain starting at 20 weeks of gestation (Zuckerman, 3/7).

Lawmakers in South Dakota and Texas are also dealing with similar issues in their states.

The Associated Press: SD Lawmakers Reject Plan To Expand Prenatal Care
The South Dakota Legislature rejected a plan to provide government-funded prenatal care to more low-income women Wednesday after officials from Gov. Dennis Daugaard's office said it was unnecessary. The Medicaid program run jointly by the state and federal governments provides prenatal care to South Dakota women earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. The state Senate had passed a bill that would have raised the income limits to cover women earning up to 140 percent of the poverty level, but the House refused to accept the Senate version of the measure (Brokaw, 3/6).

The Texas Tribune: Group Targets Abortion Waiting Period Requirement
The Texas House Women's Health Caucus has announced plans to try to repeal the 24-hour waiting period imposed by the abortion sonogram law that legislators approved in 2011. …The abortion sonogram law requires a physician to perform a sonogram 24 hours before a woman can receive an abortion, play the sound of the heartbeat and describe the development of the fetus (Aaronson, 3/6).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


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