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Arkansas Enacts Earliest
Abortion Ban in U.S.

BY STAFF                                                                                                    ©2013 Baptist Press

The Arkansas legislature has overridden a veto to enact the earliest ban on abortion in the United States.

The state House of Representatives voted 56-33 on March 6 to override Gov. Mike Beebe's veto, thereby providing final approval to a measure that bans abortion of unborn babies whose heartbeat has been detected by ultrasound at 12 weeks or later. The Senate had voted 20-14 the day before for the veto override, which requires only a majority in Arkansas.

The law marks a new front in the effort by states to regulate abortion, and it remains to be seen if it will survive a challenge in court.

Before Arkansas' heartbeat law, a ban at 18 to 20 weeks after fertilization had been the earliest enacted by a state. A federal judge in Idaho struck down that state's 20-week prohibition--which is based on evidence a baby in the womb experiences pain by that point--on the same day Arkansas enacted its 12-week ban.

      The Arkansas legislature, in fact, had enacted a 20-week ban by a veto override a week before its latest override. Beebe, a Democrat, vetoed the 20-week ban Feb. 26, and the House and Senate quickly followed with successful override votes.

The ACLU of Arkansas quickly promised a lawsuit asking a federal court to strike down the heartbeat ban.

When Beebe vetoed the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act, he said he did so because the bill "blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court." He also expressed concern a legal challenge would be costly to taxpayers.

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