In vetoing both measures, Beebe has cited the costs to the state if it has to defend either ban in court. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has vowed to sue if the state enacts the 12-week ban and the group said it was considering legal action over the 20-week restriction as well.
"I think today, for whatever reason, the Arkansas House turned its back on the women of Arkansas and said we don't think you're capable of making your own decisions," said Rita Sklar, ACLU of Arkansas' executive director. Sklar said the group planned to file suit in federal court in the next couple weeks.
Beebe noted that the state paid nearly $148,000 to attorneys for plaintiffs who successfully challenged a 1997 late-term abortion ban.
The original version of Rapert's bill would have banned abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, but he changed the measure after facing resistance from some lawmakers worried that it would require the use of a vaginal probe.
Women who have abortions would not face prosecution under Rapert's bill, but doctors who perform abortions in violation of the 12-week ban could have their medical licenses revoked.
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