Rep. Holcomb target of state GOP press release

Despite being one of the co-sponsors of legislation to ban most abortions when a fetus is 20 or more weeks post-fertilization, state Rep. Mike Holcomb (D-Pine Bluff) found himself the target of a press release distributed by the Republican Party of Arkansas Wednesday calling on him to support the effort to override Gov. Mike Beebe’s Tuesday veto of the measure.

The Wednesday vote was 53 to 28 in favor of the override of Beebe’s veto.

The Senate has scheduled its own override vote for Thursday.

With the title “Will Representative Holcomb Vote With His Constituents or Cave to Democrat Extremists?” the release called on Holcomb to continue to support the bill or incur the wrath of his constituents.

“Representative Holcomb should know that Arkansas voters will be watching how he votes when this bill comes up for another vote,” party chairman Doyle Webb said in the release. “If he caves, he will have a lot of people to answer to in November of 2014.”

State GOP director of communications David Ray explained the party’s strategy in the run up to the override vote.

“We are monitoring the Democratic house members who voted for this bill the first time around to see which way they vote on the override,” Ray said. “We want to make sure that they are accountable to the voters and we want them to be able to explain in detail why they changed their vote if they vote differently this time.”

Overriding a gubernatorial veto requires a simple majority of both chambers in the Arkansas legislature; 51 votes in the House and 18 votes in the Senate.

Holcomb couldn’t be reached for comment. Telephone messages left for him were not returned by press time.

HB 1037

Known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, House Bill 1037 passed both houses of the Arkansas State Legislature by wide bi-partisan margins with the House voting 80-10 with 10 representatives abstaining and the Senate voting 25-7 with three senators abstaining.

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-Hensley) and introduced Jan. 17.

The bill prohibits the abortion of a fetus determined by a physician to be 20 or more weeks past fertilization, except in the case of incest, rape or the presence of a condition in the mother that will lead to her death or to a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.

The bill includes an emergency clause that declares an emergency to exist in Arkansas because the General Assembly has determined that “pain-capable unborn children” are currently being aborted legally in the state; and states that the bill will become law after the state Senate votes to override Beebe’s veto.