LITTLE ROCK, AR, February 28, 2013, ( – Both houses of the Arkansas legislature have voted to override Governor Michael Beebe's veto of a bill that would prevent unborn children from being aborted if they are capable of feeling pain.

The State Senate voted this morning to override the veto on a 19-14, party line vote.


Arkansas Right to Life stated that the state senate “voted to end the killing of unborn children in [Arkansas] at an age when they are experiencing excrucitating pain at the hands of abortionists.” The vote showed in a “clear voice” the people's opposition “to Governor Mike Beebe's support of elective, non-therapeutic abortion at any time for any reason, using any method, even when the human sensation of pain is at its greatest level in procedures that burn the child to death or by pull their tiny body apart limb by limb.”

The law will restrict all abortions beyond 20 weeks.

The House voted yesterday to make the bill law over the governor's objections by a lopsided margin of 53-28. Two Democrats, Jody Dickinson and John Catlett, voted with all House Republicans to override the Democratic governor's veto.

Party loyalty and claims of impending legislation caused many Democrats to change their votes on House Bill 1037, which was introduced by Andy Mayberry. The original measure passed the House with 80 votes. Mayberry said yesterday he “started to get some warning signals” that the override vote “might be extremely close.”

The state chapter of the ACLU is threatening to sue to stall or overturn the legislation. Executive Director Rita Sklar told the Associated Press she is “looking very carefully at litigation.” The ACLU sued the state of Georgia over a similar ban.

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Arkansas joins seven other states that have set up a legal collision course with Roe v. Wade, which struck down all restrictions on abortions before “viability,” which it set at 24 weeks. A 1992 Supreme Court ruling lowered this to 22 weeks.

The media have largely reported that there is no scientific evidence supporting the notion that children can feel pain at that stage of development. However, in 2011 the Chronicle of Higher Education presented testimony from researchers in neonatology and pediatrics that children at that stage of development could experience physical suffering.

Today, the state senate also voted to approve a heartbeat bill introduced by State Senator Jason Rapert, R-Conway, by a margin of 26-8. The bill seeks to restrict abortions after a heartbeat can be detected.

Governor Beebe said, “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.”