Louisiana Democratic Governor enacts abortion ban
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana – The Democratic governor of Louisiana on Thursday signed an abortion ban as early as six weeks pregnant, a move that puts him squarely in agreement with leaders of other conservative southern states while angering members of his own party.
With his signature, Governor John Bel Edwards made Louisiana the fifth state to pass an abortion law when a fetal heartbeat is detected, joining Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia. Alabama went further, banning virtually all abortions.
Louisiana law does not contain exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
However, signing the bill will not restrict the state’s three abortion clinics anytime soon. Louisiana law only comes into effect if neighboring Mississippi law, which was recently blocked by a judge, is upheld by a federal appeals court.
Edwards, a Catholic running for re-election this year, did not organize a public bill signing, but instead announced his action through his office. He had repeated on several occasions that he intended to sign the measure, citing his faith and saying his views matched those of people in his conservative and religious state, whom he described as “extremely pro-life.” .
Louisiana lawmakers overwhelmingly backed the ban, voting 79-23 in the House and 31-5 in the Senate.
Conservative state lawmakers across the country have struck down the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade who legalized abortion nationwide. Abortion opponents are placing further restrictions on the procedure in hopes that a case will reach the High Court and that two new Tory judges appointed by President Donald Trump could help overthrow Roe.
None of the abortion bans enacted this year have taken effect, and all are expected to face legal challenges that will delay enforcement of the procedural bans.
Opponents of the so-called heartbeat bills have said they will effectively eliminate abortion as an option before many women realize they are pregnant and violate constitutional privacy protections.
Louisiana law includes an exception to the abortion ban to avoid the death of the pregnant woman or “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” – or if the pregnancy is found to be “medically. futile”. But it does not include an exception for pregnancy caused by rape or incest, drawing criticism that the law imposes continued trauma on women who have been victimized.
Under the bill, a doctor who violates the ban could be sentenced to a prison term of up to two years, as well as having their medical license revoked.
Debates over abortion rights that divide state capitals across the country are causing less ripple in the Louisiana Legislature. It is one of the most resolutely anti-abortion states in the country, with a law on the books that immediately bans abortion if Roe v. Wade is overthrown one day. State lawmakers pass new regulations each year to limit access with bipartisan support.
Louisiana’s latest abortion ban won the support of many Democrats and was sponsored by Democratic Senator John Milkovich of northwest Louisiana.
Although Edwards is rare in the National Democratic Party, he is consistently presented as an anti-abortion candidate. When he ran for governor in 2015, his campaign had a prominent TV commercial that showed his wife, Donna, describing that he had been advised to have an abortion due to the malformation of their spine. girl. The Edwards refused and the ad showed an adult Samantha.
The bill signed by Edwards, who faces two Republicans on the ballot this fall, is expected to help bolster his position with some voters at home, even if it puts him at odds with leaders and national donors in the Democratic Party.
Still, the governor faced an angry outcry on social media from Democrats who opposed his support for the abortion ban.
Louisiana Democratic Party President Senator Karen Carter Peterson has consistently criticized the bill. She posted opposition messages on Twitter, such as: “Roe vs. Wade must be respected and not compromised! Right to privacy!” But she hasn’t directly criticized Edwards by name and the party is backing him for re-election.
The governor was reluctant to address the abortion ban on Thursday. “The bill has been signed and I won’t go into detail today,” Edwards told NBC News.
Alex Seitz-Wald contributed.