Target: Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe
Goal: Commend the governor for vetoing a ban on abortion at 20 weeks into pregnancy.
Recently, Democratic Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe vetoed a bill that would ban most abortions in the state at twenty weeks into pregnancy. He deserves commendation for taking a clear stand on a controversial issue, even though, in a rapid response, the Arkansas legislature voted to overturn his veto.
Governor Beebe said, in his veto letter, that the bill “would impose a ban on a woman’s right to choose an elective, non-therapeutic abortion before viability; [the ban], if it became law, would squarely contradict the Supreme Court precedent.” He was referring to the Supreme Court’s famous case of Roe v. Wade in 1973, wherein it was ruled that abortion is legal until viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb. Viability is generally accepted to be at twenty-two to twenty-four weeks.
Previously, Arkansas banned abortion at twenty-five weeks. The recent bill is based on much disputed medical research that claims a fetus begins to feel pain at twenty weeks.
The twenty week abortion ban provides exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother’s life. It does not, however, provide exemption in cases of lethal fetal disorders. Late-term abortions are relatively rare. Still, abortion rights activists have claimed that the new restrictions on access to safe abortions would be bad for Arkansas women. The passing of the new bill makes Arkansas the eighth state to restrict or ban abortion at the twenty week mark.
The bill passed with overwhelming majority in both state House and Senate. The Republican party has control of both chambers for the first time since the Reconstruction era. A simple majority was needed to overturn the governor’s veto. Another bill proposed by Arkansas lawmakers seeks to ban abortions at twelve weeks, the point at which a heartbeat can first be detected by an ultrasound. If passed, the bill would give Arkansas the most restrictive abortion laws in the U.S.
Governor Beebe should be applauded and encouraged for his staunch efforts to uphold women’s rights in a primarily conservative state. He faces stiff opposition after taking such a clear stand.
Dear Governor Beebe,
Thank you for taking a clear stand on an issue that remains divisive and controversial, not only in your own state, but nationwide. With disputed research on the point at which a fetus can feel pain, it is too easy to be swept into a fervor of right versus wrong, immoral versus moral.
Your decision to veto the bill banning abortion at twenty weeks is in keeping with the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade to uphold a woman’s right to abortion up until the point of viability. With viability occurring at twenty-two to twenty-four weeks into gestation, the bill banning abortion at the twenty week mark is in direct violation to the Supreme Court’s decision and thus unconstitutional.
While it was likely not easy to take a clear stand on such a hot issue, we commend you for your efforts. Please don’t give up the fight for women’s rights.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons