Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas House voted 53-28 Wednesday to override Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto of a bill that would outlaw most abortions starting in the 20th week of pregnancy, hours after a state Senate committee approved a package of even tighter abortion restrictions.
The Republican-controlled state Senate, which overwhelmingly backed the 20-week near-ban on abortions before Beebe, a Democrat, vetoed it, was expected to discuss whether to vote to override the veto Thursday. Like the GOP-led House, only a simple majority in the Senate is needed to override a veto.
The House-sponsored measure is based on the disputed argument that a fetus can feel pain by the 20th week of pregnancy, and thus deserves protection from abortion. Beebe vetoed the bill Tuesday, saying it contradicts the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1976 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion until a fetus can viably survive outside of the womb, which is typically at 22 to 24 weeks.
“This is not just any regular bill. It’s one that has an eternal impact on each of us and to those children,” Republican Rep. Andy Mayberry told House members as he urged them to override.
Two of the House’s 48 Democrats joined with all 51 GOP members to support overriding Beebe’s veto. Eighteen Democrats and the chamber’s only Green Party member did not vote on the override, which has the same effect as voting against it. Republicans hold 21 of the 35 seats in the Senate, which approved the bill on a 25-7 vote last week.
Before the House vote, the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee voted 5-2 to advance a bill that would ban most abortions starting in the 12th week of pregnancy, sending it to the full Senate. The Senate passed an earlier version of the bill that would have outlawed abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, but amended it to push back the restriction and to add more exemptions.
Beebe declined to say Wednesday whether he also would veto the Senate’s proposed 12-week ban, but he said he thinks it’s on even shakier legal ground than the House’s 20-week version.
“I’m pretty sure I know what I’m going to do on a bill that’s even more problematic than the one I already vetoed, but I won’t tell you officially until that time,” Beebe said Tuesday.
Seven states have enacted similar 20-week restrictions based on the fetal pain argument, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks laws affecting women’s health. A similar law in Arizona has been blocked while a federal appeals court reviews a lawsuit challenging it.
The Arkansas bill is based on research Mayberry and other abortion opponents cite that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, however, says it knows of no legitimate scientific information supporting the idea that a fetus experiences pain.
John DiPippa, dean emeritus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s law school, said he agrees with Beebe that the ban is unconstitutional and likely will be decided by the courts. He said he thinks the fetal pain argument will lose in the lower courts but that it’s unclear how it might fare if it were to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The core holding of Roe is that a state cannot place an obstacle in the way of a woman who wants to abort before viability,” DiPippa said. “If you apply that standard, then these bills that draw the line at 20 weeks — which by all medical estimates is prior to viability — would clearly set up a substantial obstacle to a woman’s ability to before that age.”
GOP Sen. Jason Rapert said he hopes Beebe lets it stand but said he was confident the 12-week ban would have enough support to override a veto.
“The governor has his own conscience,” Rapert, R-Conway, told reporters. “I think probably the best route would be that he just simply not sign the bill and let it become law, if that’s what he decides to do. If he doesn’t, then we’ll override the veto and it’ll become law in the state of Arkansas.”
Associated Press writer Michael Stratford contributed to this report.
Andrew DeMillo can be reached at www.twitter.com/ademillo
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Mandela is accompanied by his former wife Winnie, moments after his release from prison February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in jail. (Reuters)
In this February, 1990 photo, shortly after his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, gives the black power salute to the 120,000 supporters packing Soccer City stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
Nelson Mandela showed his passport in February 19, 1990, shortly after his release from prison. The South African government authorized an application for himself and his wife Winnie - (Juda Ngwenya / Reuters)
In this July 27, 1991 photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas, Cuba. (AP Photo)
In this July 4, 1993 photo, President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela listen during Fourth of July ceremonies in Philadelphia during which Clinton presented the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to the African National Congress president and South African President F.W. de Klerk. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he prepares to unveil the ANC's official election platform in 1994. (AP Photo/David Brauchli)
African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela greeted residents of Mmabatho in March 1994, during a visit after the nominal homeland came under South African control following the ousting of the former President Lucas Mangope. (Reuters/Howard Burditt)
South African President Nelson Mandela smiles with actor Sidney Poitier at a press conference in Cape Town in 1996. Poitier played Mandela in the film "One Man, One Vote" (AP Photo / Sasa Kralj)
South African President Nelson Mandela waves to crowds as he sits next to Queen Elizabeth II in a an open carriage on the way to Buckingham Palace.(AP/Louisa Buller)
Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly Cyril Ramaphosa, left, holds up a copy of the country's constitution which was signed by President Nelson Mandela, in December 1996. (AP Photo / Adil Bradlow / POOL)
Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg in February 2000. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)
South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar, right, received the Rugby World Cup trophy from President Nelson Mandela also wearing a South African rugby shirt, after South Africa defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup , in 1995. (AP Photo / Ross Setford)