Beebe again issues veto on abortion bill

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 170 views 

Here we go again.

Gov. Mike Beebe, D-Arkansas, today (Mar. 4) vetoed Senate Bill 134, which would have prevented some abortions from taking place as soon as 12 weeks after conception.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, was the second abortion-related bill to be vetoed by Beebe recently. He previously vetoed HB 1037, a bill by Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley. That veto received a narrow override in the Senate.

In vetoing both bills, the governor said each was unconstitutional.

"In short, because it would impose a ban on a woman's right to choose an elective, non-therapeutic abortion well before viability, Senate Bill 134 blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court. When I was sworn in as Governor I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend both the Arkansas Constitution and the Constitution of the United States," Beebe said in a statement. "I take that oath seriously."

He also said he expected the bills to be challenged in court, costing taxpayers money.

"Lawsuits challenging unconstitutional laws also result in the losing party – in this case, the State – being ordered to pay the costs and attorneys' fees incurred by the litigants who successfully challenge the law," Beebe said. "Those costs and fees can be significant. In the last case in which the constitutionality of an Arkansas abortion statute was challenged, Little Rock Family Planning Services v. Jegley, the State was ordered to pay the prevailing plaintiffs and their attorneys nearly $119,000 for work in the trial court, and an additional $28,900 for work on the State's unsuccessful appeal."

Rep. Stephanie Malone, R-Fort Smith, said she was not surprised by the veto based on Beebe's previous veto of HB 1037.

When asked whether she thought an override of the veto would take place as with HB1037, she said she was in hopes that an override would take place.

"I can't speak for my colleagues, but I would like to think we would," she said.

Malone added that the governor's concern about the constitutionality of the bill were unfounded.

"I think you never know until you challenge it," she said. "We feel confident, the author of the bill feels confident, that this has a good chance of making it to the Supreme Court and challenging Roe vs. Wade."

The Arkansas House and Arkansas Senate only need a simple majority to override the governor's veto.

Should both houses vote for an override, the bill would take affect immediately.