LITTLE ROCK, March 5, 2013, ( – The Arkansas state senate has voted to override Governor Michael Beebe's veto of a bill that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected.

In a 20-14 party-line vote, the senate voted to uphold a measure banning abortions after 12 weeks. The bill includes exceptions for rape, incest, to save the life of the mother, or severe fetal defects.

The governor vetoed the bill, introduced by State Senator Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, on Monday, saying it violated the viability age set in the Roe v. Wade decision.


The Republican-dominated House is expected to vote on the Democratic governor's veto tomorrow. Only a majority vote is necessary to turn the proposal into law.

If the bill prevails in the lower chamber, it will be the second time in two weeks that the legislature will have enacted a pro-life law over the Democratic governor's veto. Late last month, a handful of Democrats joined all the legislature's Republicans in overriding Beebe's veto of a “fetal pain” bill to end abortions at 20 weeks. At the time, Beebe again said he felt the ban would be ruled unconstitutional.

“At this point, [there is] nothing for us to do but watch and see what happens,” said Governor Beebe's spokesman Matt DeCample.

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The ACLU has already promised a lawsuit should the bill be enacted.

If the House votes to override, the 12-week ban will become law 90 days after both chambers adjourn, either later this month or in April. The fetal pain ban is already law

Two Democrats joined House Republicans in the fetal pain override vote, but party solidarity remains a deciding factor for many in the state. Democratic State Senator Bobby Pierce told the Associated Press, “I still agree with it. It's the thing to do.” But he voted against the measure out of loyalty to his party and Governor Beebe.