The Louisiana House voted today to pass a bill (79-23) that would ban abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat can be detected – usually around six weeks gestation. The Senate had already passed the bill and Governor John Bel Edwards, a pro-life Democrat, has said he will sign the bill into law.
“In eight years in the legislature, I was a pro-life legislator, 100 percent with the Louisiana Right to Life,” Edwards said. “When I ran for governor, I said I was pro-life and so that’s something that’s consistent.”
Breaking with the Democratic party on abortion isn’t new for Edwards. He has said that his views on abortion align with the people he represents in his “conservative, religious state.” He made his pro-life stance a central part of his campaign in 2015, sharing with the world that he and his wife Donna were encouraged to abort their daughter after she was diagnosed prenatally with spina bifida. An advertisement featuring his now-adult daughter Samantha stated, “She’s living proof that John Bel Edwards lives his values every day.” Each year he has been in office as governor, the number of abortions has declined in Louisiana.
In addition to working to end abortion, Edwards also expanded the state Medicaid program, saying he believes that doing so was pro-life.
“That’s the way I was raised,” he explained. “That’s what my Catholic Christian faith requires. I know that for many in the national party, on the national scene, that’s not a good fit. But I will tell you, here in Louisiana, I speak and meet with Democrats who are pro-life every single day.”
Currently, Louisiana law prohibits abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This new law seeks to ban abortion much earlier with exceptions for the health of the mother and in the case of a fatal prenatal diagnosis of the child. There are no exceptions for rape.
If Edwards does indeed sign the bill, Louisiana will become the fifth state to pass ‘heartbeat bills’ following the leads of Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, and Georgia. Each of those states is facing legal challenges to their laws, and a U.S. District judge blocked Mississippi’s newest abortion law on Friday. Since Mississippi and Louisiana are part of the same federal appeals court circuit, Louisiana’s law won’t go into effect unless Mississippi’s version is upheld. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said he will “encourage the Attorney General to seek immediate review of the preliminary injunction.” Missouri is also attempting to pass a similar law.
Science has repeatedly proven that a new human life begins at the moment of fertilization. Because of this, it is clear that abortion ends a human life in its earliest stages.
Louisiana law is clear that women would not be charged for undergoing an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. However, the physician who committed the abortion would face anywhere from one to ten years in prison and a fine of at least $10,000 up to $100,000. That doctor would also face the possibility of losing his or her medical license.
Currently, Louisiana is also deciding on a proposal to change the definition of abortion in addition to a bill regarding requirements on how abortion facilities and physicians maintain medical records of their patients.
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