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Gov. Beebe on Abortion Bans: "Clearly in Violation"

<font size="2">LITTLE ROCK -- The first court hearing on Arkansas' 12-week abortion is this Friday, and it won't include a group wanting to help defend the law.</font>
The first court hearing on Arkansas' 12-week abortion is this Friday, and it won't include a group wanting to help defend the law.

The judge told parties in the case last week that "Concepts of Truth" will not be a part of the hearing.

The ACLU is challenging the law on behalf of abortion providers, saying the so-called "Fetal Heartbeat" law unconstitutionally restricts a woman's right to choose.The law is set to take effect in August, but could be delayed by the result of this week's federal court hearing.

And, as you may recall, the 12-week ban was just one of two abortion bans passed by the legislature this session -- but only after Governor Beebe vetoed both controversial bills. Now, weeks after having his vetoes overturned, the governor tells KNWA in an exclusive interview, he's worried about what it could mean for the future of the Natural State.

"Usually we could convince them [legislators] beforehand if they've got something that's, uh, suspect in whatever fashion. But they had a couple of abortion bills that really are constitutionally suspect," said Beebe when asked about having to use his veto power on the two bills.

"It's federal law on what restrictions can be put on there. It's federal Supreme Court law. And, so, we've got some pretty serious -- had some pretty serious restrictions already as far as what the courts would allow you to do in Arkansas. These bills went beyond that. I don't know if they're trying to test the limit. I don't know what they're trying to do, but I have an obligation -- and everybody says they're for the constitution, except," Beebe added. "They're for the constitution, unless the constitution is doing something they don't like, and then -- they're for the constitution, except for that."

Beebe, who's heading into the final year and a half of his two terms as governor, says he doesn't have that luxury.

"My job is, uh, you know, when you -- when you swear on that Bible you're going to uphold the constitution, it ought to mean something. And, so, both of these bills that I vetoed, uh -- one was clearly in violation of existing constitutional law, and the other one is, uh, sufficiently in violation -- I felt the need to veto and did. They overrode them," said Beebe.

The overrides, as Beebe explains, passed on a simple majority due to a clause in the Arkansas constitution dating back to post Civil War Reconstruction.

"A lot of southern states wanted to decentralize power, so a veto override in a lot of those states, constitutionally, are only a majority. And, so, they [legislature] overrode them with a, I think, with a 51-49 vote, explained Beebe, adding, "I just hope it doesn't cost us a lot of money in attorney's fees and court battles."

You'll hear from Beebe all week long right on KNWA Today as part of our exclusive series with the leader of the Natural State. Each day, we'll discuss an important issue that matters to Arkansas residents.

For the entire interview, click HERE.

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