Democratic Governor Mike Beebe has announced that he will veto the 20-week abortion ban passed by the Arkansas state legislature. Calling HB 1037 an unconstitutional law that would force Arkansas taxpayers to foot the costs of a legal challenge, Beebe said he simply could not sign the bill.
“When I was sworn in as Governor I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend both the Arkansas Constitution and the Constitution of the United States,” Beebe said via press release. “I take that oath seriously.” Beebe then challenged lawmakers to remember that even pro-bono offers of legal services could cost the state should a legal challenge to an unconstitutional law succeed. “Lawsuits challenging unconstitutional laws also result in the losing party—in this case, the State—having to pay the costs and attorneys’ fees incurred by the litigants who successfully challenge the law. Those costs and fees can be significant,” he warned.
The willingness to veto the unconstitutional ban makes it much more likely the Beebe will also veto the stricter “heartbeat” ban, which would ban abortions at approximately 12 weeks, should it ever pass both chambers of the legislature.