Is it me, or does this country seem like it's on a crazy, runaway anti-abortion train? I think we all have deeply ambivalent feelings about abortion. None of us are cheering, "YAY! ABORTIONS FOR EVERYONE! WOO!" But at the same time, there still seems to be support for the right to have an abortion under certain circumstances. Meanwhile, some legislators are trying to literally END abortion forever and ever. What a relief, then, to find out that Arkansas governor Mike Beebe is trying to stop the crazy train, at least in his state. He just vetoed a bill that would ban abortion after 12 weeks.
If passed, this bill would become the strictest abortion law on the books. Beebe says it's unconstitutional. But he may lose this fight -- he vetoed another bill banning abortion after 20 weeks, and the Arkansas legislature overrode his veto.
Governor Beebe is going by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, where the Supreme Court legalized abortion until a fetus could survive outside the womb, around 22 to 24 weeks. Here's what he said in his veto letter.
Because it would impose a ban on a woman's right to choose an elective, nontherapeutic abortion well before viability, Senate Bill 134 blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court. 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. I take that oath seriously.
Some Arkansas lawmakers are vowing to override this veto, too. But they may have finally, FINALLY pushed the anti-abortion boundaries too far. Rep. Greg Leding says lawmakers are getting pressure from their constituents to chill the hell out on the anti-abortion laws. "We pushed as hard as we could last time and came up short, and I don't expect to see that kind of effort this time."
Overall, it looks like politicians overestimate how conservative their constituents are -- by a long shot. Someone forgot to send them the memo that Americans are diverse and open-minded. We're not all reactionary wing-nuts, you guys!
Have we finally had enough -- all over the nation? I know we, collectively as Americans, seem to want some clear laws for abortion. We want those laws to be fair and to reflect reality. Lately, though, anti-abortion laws have taken on a harsh, punishing tone. Lawmakers have created this abortion-hungry straw woman, if you will. This imaginary woman who keeps screwing everything in sight, never using birth control, and running into the abortion clinic every chance she can get like they're giving away candy.
I think we all know that's not the reality. And it's about time we start treating abortion seriously, like adults. I'm glad Governor Beebe stood up extreme lawmakers in his state, and I hope more leaders do the same.
What do you think of Arkansas' bill to ban abortion after 12 weeks?
Image via Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr