The Arkansas legislature voted this week to override Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto on a law protecting unborn children from the violent pain of abortion.
According to LifeSiteNews, the law bans abortions past 20 weeks, the point at which unborn children feel excruciating pain. The Senate overrode the veto by a party line vote of 19-14. The veto passed the House by a margin of 53-28, with two Democrats joining Republican lawmakers to bypass the governor. The ACLU has threatened to sue to either stall or overturn the law, claiming it tramples on a woman’s right to choose.
Seven other states have enacted fetal pain laws, but the question of whether or not unborn babies can feel pain is still under debate. In defense, Americans United for Life points to a 2010 testimony from Dr. Tom Grissom, who told the Nebraska Legislature that by seven weeks, unborn children have developed some of the nerve capacities related to painful sensations. Those nerves are fully developed by 20 weeks.
Pro-life advocates have used the fetal pain argument to defend the humanity of unborn children, arguing that if a fetus can feel pain, it is more than just a clump of cells.
“Unborn children jerk away from painful stimuli, their stress hormones increase, and they require anesthesia before any fetal surgery,” Mary Spaulding Balch, of the National Right to Life Committee. She lauded the ban, telling the Washington Times it will protect unborn children from, “feeling pain from the violence of abortion.”
Right after overriding Beebe’s veto, lawmakers sent him another bill limiting abortions even further. The Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act would ban abortions after 12 weeks if doctors detect a fetal heartbeat. Beebe hinted he would veto that bill as well.