LITTLE ROCK, Ark (Reuters) - Arkansas was set to enact the nation's most restrictive law on abortion, banning most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, after the state's Republican-controlled House on Wednesday voted to override the governor's veto of the bill.
Representatives voted 56-33 to override the veto by Democratic Governor Mike Beebe, which followed the state Senate's override on Tuesday. In Arkansas, lawmakers can override a veto with a simple majority vote.
The Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act will go into effect 90 days after the formal adjournment of the legislative session. The session was set to adjourn May 17, though it could be extended.
Arkansas will have the earliest abortion ban in the country, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
The measure bans most abortions at about 12 weeks of pregnancy, once a fetal heartbeat can be detected by a standard ultrasound. It includes exemptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother and major fetal conditions. Doctors who violate the prohibition would have their licenses revoked by the state medical board.
The fetal heartbeat bill was one of one of several bills introduced by Arkansas Republicans this year seeking to restrict abortion. This is the first time the party has controlled both chambers since the Reconstruction era following the Civil War.
Beebe said in his veto letter the heartbeat bill "blatantly contradicts" the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court, and he questioned the potential cost to taxpayers of defending it against legal challenges.