Louisiana Passes Heartbeat Bill; Gov. Says He’ll Sign It

Louisiana became the latest state to pass a bill that would make abortion illegal once a baby’s heartbeat is detectable, and pro-life Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has promised to sign it.

On Wednesday, the House passed the bill by a 79-23 margin following Senate approval, paving the way for it to become law. A heartbeat is typically detectable somewhere around six weeks, and the bill includes an exception for pregnancies deemed “medically futile.” The House rejected attempts to include exceptions for rape and incest after intense debate, The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge reported.

In a statement, Edwards noted his clear pro-life stances during his campaign in 2015 and his previous legislative tenure in the state. “As governor, I have been true to my word and my beliefs on this issue. But it is also my sincere belief that being pro-life means more than just being pro-birth. … As I prepare to sign this bill, I call on the overwhelming bipartisan majority of legislators who voted for it to join me in continuing to build a better Louisiana that cares for the least among us and provides more opportunity for everyone.”

Meanwhile, Franklin Graham praised the bill’s passage on Facebook.

“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.”

If signed, Louisiana would join Ohio, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri as states with heartbeat laws.

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 pro-life politicians in the Democratic Party.

The Louisiana law will likely face an uphill battle in the courts. A federal district judge on May 24 temporarily blocked Mississippi’s heartbeat law, set to go into effect July 1.

Photo: Walter Bibikow, Danita Delimont Photography/Newscom