Editor's note: Story updated to include comment from Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith.
The Arkansas House of Representatives voted Wednesday (Feb. 27) to override Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto of HB 1037, a bill that would restrict abortions after 20 weeks.
The House vote was 53-28 to support the override of the gubernatorial veto. The bill was Beebe’s first veto of the session.
The Arkansas Senate will consider the override on Thursday (Feb. 28).
Beebe said HB 1037 by Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, the “pain capable abortion” bill, violated the U.S. Constitution and would cost taxpayers money through litigation.
Mayberry had promised to lead an override effort after the Governor’s veto.
“I think this is a great bill. It saves babies lives. This bill – even under the current Roe v. Wade ruling – is constitutional,” he said.
Beebe has vetoed more than 10 measures in previous legislative sessions during his six years as Governor.
The Senate vote is likely a formality, with 25 in the 35-member Senate voting for the HB 1037. Only 18 votes are required to override the veto.
Eight of the nine Senators representing all or portions of the Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas areas are Republicans, and they voted for the bill. However, Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith, is not 100% certain he will follow his vote for HB 1037 with a supporting vote to override Beebe's veto.
“I’m unsure how I will vote tomorrow and want to visit with some attorneys who can speak to the constitutionality of the measure. I know our constitution is unique, but this bill was found constitutional in Nebraska,” Files told The City Wire. “While strongly pro-life, I am ready to move the focus of this Legislature to fiscal policy talks and bills that will help retain and attract jobs here.”
Sen. Uvalde Lindsey of Fayetteville, the lone Democrat among the nine Senators, voted against the bill and doesn’t plan to change his vote for the override.
“I’m not going to change my stripes now. ... I’ve voted against all these bills, and I’m not going to go the other direction now,” Lindsey said.