Target: Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe
Goal: Thank Governor Beebe for vetoing anti-abortion bills, and urge him to continue to fight state anti-choice legislation
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe has vetoed a state bill this week that contains the most severe proposed restrictions on abortion in the entire country. The legislation seeks to ban abortions 12 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy. Beebe, a Democrat, said the proposal “blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court,” referring to the historic 1973 Roe vs. Wade case that made abortions legal up until fetal viability, which is usually around 22-24 weeks.
The Arkansas Legislature, which is led by Republicans, initially approved the bill called the “Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act” last week. Although Beebe vetoed the bill, the legislature then voted 20-14 to override the Governor’s actions. If the House overrides Beebe’s veto, the 12-week ban would take effect later this year and the Governor’s veto would become moot. The proposal, drafted by Representative Jason Rapert, contains the word “heartbeat” because it is intended to make abortions illegal as soon as an ultrasound can detect a fetal heartbeat, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. So-called “heartbeat bills” have been proposed in several other states, facing much legal contention in court.
Just last week in Arkansas a similar scenario occurred, with the state legislature overriding Beebe’s veto of an abortion bill that proposed a 20-week limit on abortions. That law took effect immediately and is based on the notion that a fetus can feel pain at that level of gestation, a highly controversial notion that is not based in any fact.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas says they will sue if the 12-week ban does indeed come to fruition. It is also considering action over the already-enacted 20-week ban. “I think we’re one step closer to the most intrusive abortion law in the country and it sets Arkansas back decades in public perception in the minds of other people: potential employers, businesses and people who might want to move here,” said Rita Sklar, the ACLU of Arkansas’ executive director.
Arkansas is only one of several states undertaking a barrage of attacks on women’s reproductive rights over the past few months. Thank Governor Beebe for his vetoes of these extreme bills and ask that he continue to fight to preserve important women’s rights.
Dear Governor Beebe,
We want to commend you for your sincere and earnest effort to stop anti-choice legislation in your state. We understand it must be frustrating to fight for a cause and see your efforts continually pushed back, but we recognize and appreciate your work. The women of Arkansas deserve a Governor that is fighting to protect their reproductive rights. We understand that your position is unpopular with many, so it makes your efforts even more laudable.
Please continue to reject anti-choice legislation that crosses your desk. Women have fought too hard to be stripped of the freedoms that have protected them for decades. Thank you for vetoing legislation attacking reproductive rights, and stay steadfast in your commitment to preserving these rights. You have our utmost respect and support.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: flickr via keith ingram