The Arkansas House of Representatives has overridden by a vote of 56 to 33 the Governor’s veto of a controversial bill that restricts abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The bill will take effect 90 days after the conclusion of this year’s legislative session after the Senate voted 20-14 to override the veto Tuesday.
Republican Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway is the sponsor of SB 134, also called the Human Heartbeat Protection Act. It prohibits a pregnant woman from having an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, or after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The bill is the most restrictive abortion ban in the US.
Rapert has insisted that “where there is a heartbeat, there is life,” but abortion rights advocates say the bill will harm women’s health.
"This is an attack on safe and legal abortion, make no mistake about it,” Jill June President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland said.
The bill's sponsor in the House, Rep. Ann Clemmer, a Republican from Benton, says women still have a choice in their reproductive health.
"We're just saying after 12 weeks the choice is over," Clemmer said.
The ACLU of Arkansas said it is planning a legal challenge which may begin within two weeks.
"We are heading straight to federal court to make sure those decisions get back in the hands of Arkansas women," Rita Slar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas told reporters.
The bill's sponsors say money spent on any potential lawsuit would be money well spent by the state and offer that legal help has been pledged to the state pro-bono.
"Our job is to talk about what we believe are the right laws for the state of Arkansas based on what our voters tell us," Clemmer said.