Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards Signs ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Ban into Law

Gov. John Bel Edwards talks with supporters on the final day of the special session on taxes that he called to raise money for next year's budget, on Monday, June 4, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)
Melinda Deslatte/AP Photo
DR. SUSAN BERRY

Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill into law Thursday that prohibits abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually at the sixth or seventh week of pregnancy.

“In 2015, I ran for governor as a pro-life candidate after serving as a pro-life legislator for eight years,” Bel Edwards said in a statement posted to Twitter. “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.”

The Louisiana House of Representatives passed SB 184, 79–23, on Wednesday. The bill requires that an ultrasound be performed prior to an abortion. If a fetal heartbeat is detected, the bill bans abortion unless, under penalty of perjury, the abortion provider states the procedure is necessary “to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or to prevent a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”

The legislation also includes an exemption when a physician certifies that the pregnancy is diagnosed as “medically futile,” i.e., “the unborn child has a profound and irremediable congenital or chromosomal anomaly that is incompatible with sustaining life after birth.”

The House rejected an amendment that would have made exceptions for rape and incest.

State Sen. John Milkovich, a Democrat, sponsored the legislation which was introduced in the State House by Democrat Rep. Katrina Jackson.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, noted in a statement the strong bipartisan effort to pass the legislation.

“Louisianans on both sides of the aisle overwhelmingly reject the extreme status quo of abortion on demand through birth imposed by Roe v. Wade,” she said. “Across the nation there is a growing momentum, informed by science and compassion, to recognize the humanity of the unborn child in law.”

Dannenfelser observed that Democrat U.S. senators in a bid for the White House “could not even vote to protect babies born alive after failed abortions, a legislative proposal backed by 77 percent of Americans — including 70 percent of Democrats.”

Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, also noted the rarity that the Louisiana “heartbeat” bill was introduced, sponsored, and signed into law by Democrats.

“They understand that the protection of innocent children in the womb is more important than loyalty to a party platform,” he said. “Democrat leaders on the national level should listen to Louisiana.”

Hollywood actress and political activist Alyssa Milano also noted the actions by Louisiana Democrats:

Pavone lamented that most Democrats appear to “bow to the abortion industry,” a situation that renders them “out of step with the American public.”

“I commend Louisiana lawmakers for fighting for precious babies and passing this ‘heartbeat bill,’” said Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver. “The beating heart of a priceless unborn child should awaken the conscience of our nation to the violence of abortion. I am grateful that Louisiana is not afraid to take significant steps toward making the womb a safe place again.”

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