Louisiana Governor Breaks With Democratic Party on Abortion; Prepared to Sign Fetal ‘Heartbeat’ Ban

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FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 file photo, Gov. John Bel Edwards talks about an expected $300 million-plus surplus Louisiana will have from the last budget year in Baton Rouge, La. Nearly three decades ago, when Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ wife was 20 weeks pregnant with their first child, a doctor discovered their daughter had spina bifida and encouraged an abortion. The Edwardses refused. Edwards, who has repeatedly bucked national party leaders on abortion rights, is about to do it again. He’s ready to sign legislation that would ban the procedure as early as six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant, when the bill reaches his desk. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File)

By Morgan Gstalter, The Hill, May 17, 2019

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is reportedly prepared to break with the Democratic Party to sign a bill banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat detected if it passes a final vote in the state House, The Associated Press reported.

The proposal awaits a final vote before it heads to Edwards’s desk. The legislation would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is around the six-week mark, before many women even know they are pregnant.

The procedure would be allowed if the pregnant woman’s health is in “serious risk,” but not for pregnancies caused by rape or incest, AP noted.

The Democrat’s anti-abortion stance stems from his wife’s pregnancy nearly 30 years ago. A doctor discovered their daughter, Samantha, had spina bifida and encouraged an abortion, but the couple refused.

Samantha is now married and works as a school counselor, according to the outlet.

“In eight years in the legislature, I was a pro-life legislator, 100 percent with the Louisiana Right to Life,” Edwards said during a Thursday press conference. “When I ran for governor, I said I was pro-life and so that’s something that’s consistent.”

Edwards said his views are predominantly in line with the residents of Louisiana, which he has described as a “overwhelming pro-life” state.

Other conservative states, including Mississippi, Georgia and Kentucky, have passed similar so-called heartbeat abortion bans in recent weeks. However, they were signed into law by Republican governors.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) this week signed an abortion ban into law that prohibited nearly all abortions in the state.

If Edwards signs the bill into law, it would not go into effect until a similar law in Mississippi is upheld in a federal appeals court.

The laws have all faced legal challenges and anti-abortion activists have said they are hoping the legislations will force the Supreme Court to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.

Edwards has also cited his Catholic upbringing for his stance on abortion but said the religion’s philosophy was part of his decision to expand the state’s Medicaid program, AP reported. The decision, unpopular with Republicans, is “pro-life” too, Edwards said.

“I know that for many in the national party, on the national scene, that’s not a good fit,” Edwards said on his monthly radio show. “But I will tell you, here in Louisiana, I speak and meet with Democrats who are pro-life every single day.”