Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a pro-life Democrat, kept his promise Thursday in signing into law a bill that makes abortion illegal once a baby’s heartbeat is detectable. Though signed, the law won’t go into effect unless a similar law in Mississippi is upheld by a federal appeals court.
The state House rejected attempts to include exceptions for rape and incest after intense debate, The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge reported, but the law includes an exception for pregnancies deemed “medically futile.” A heartbeat is typically detectable somewhere around six weeks.
Edwards, a Catholic who has a long pro-life record, has gotten sharp criticism from abortion rights supporters in his own party, but one national Democratic group praised him.
“Pro-Life for the Whole Life. Live and legislate it! Thank you @LouisianaGov for being a man of integrity and standing your ground,” tweeted Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America.
Meanwhile, Franklin Graham praised the bill’s passage on Facebook earlier in the week.
“Democratic Rep. Katrina Jackson sponsored the state’s heartbeat bill and is also going against her party—because of her deeply held religious beliefs. I appreciate these leaders who are bold enough to stand up to protect innocent lives. … Let’s pray that God will work in more politicians’ hearts and they will decide to defend life. Thank you Gov. John Bel Edwards and the LA legislators who supported this bill.”
Louisiana joins Ohio, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri as states with heartbeat laws.
A federal district judge on May 24 temporarily blocked Mississippi’s heartbeat law, set to go into effect July 1. The Louisiana law will not become effective until an affirmative ruling on Mississippi’s law by the appellate court.
In July 2018, Edwards signed into law a bill restricting abortion at 15 weeks. He is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South and one of the few prominent pro-life politicians in the Democratic Party.
Photo: David Rae Morris/Polaris/Newscom