Louisiana: John Bel Edwards Accused of Saying He Believes in “Freedom of Choice” on Abortion

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 9, 2015   |   1:54PM   |   Baton Rouge, LA

A Democratic candidate for Louisiana governor is being accused of not being as pro-life as he claims.

Louisiana state Rep. John Bel Edwards calls himself pro-life, but the Democratic gubernatorial candidate has “voted in favor of marginal and less significant pro-life reforms,” writes Mark Elsasser for the American Thinker.

Edwards says he is pro-life; but in 2006, the state representative summarized his view on abortion as “the freedom of choice, between the appropriate parties and their higher power” in answer to a political survey, Elsasser says.

Edwards’ gubernatorial campaign claims that “Mr. Edwards never made any such pro-choice statement,” according to OnTheIssue.com, a political website that lists information about politicians.

Here is more from the political website:

The Edwards campaign called us in October 2015 to remove this excerpt, claiming we were mistaken … We cited the source, and agreed to remove it pending a new statement, which the campaign promised by Oct. 16. The campaign also agreed at that time that it would be “evasive” to NOT provide such a statement in a timely manner.

No such new statement was sent to us by Nov. 2, although the Edwards campaign did fill in a new VoteSmart NPAT survey asserting that Mr. Edwards is pro-life: “My Catholic christian Faith informs my person, pro-life values which extend to policy decisions beyond the birth a child. I am not merely pro-birth. I am actually pro-life.”

VoteSmart has replaced the old NPAT survey with the new one; but we showed the old survey to the campaign in October and they did not question its veracity. We concur that Mr. Edwards is now pro-life, but we contend that Mr. Edwards is being evasive about his more pro-choice-leaning stance in the past. We provided an opportunity to explain this change in point of view, but the campaign declined to provide a response, despite promising one, before the election.




In addition, Elsasser refers to a 2009 vote when Rep. Edwards attempted to weaken a pro-life conscience protection bill with amendments that would have give only healthcare providers in the public sector conscience protections for a limited amount of procedures.

The Louisiana Right to Life Federation lists Edwards and Republican opponent U.S. Sen. David Vitter as 100% pro-life on its candidate questionnaire.

However, the state pro-life group did oppose Edwards’ 2009 amendment, which would have removed conscience rights protections for the following activities: artificial insemination, sterilization, artificial reproductive technologies and fetal experimentation.

“Louisiana Right to Life elected not to score that vote due to confusion in the legislative body about the issues at hand, but we disagreed with Rep. Edwards’ position and opposed his amendment at the time,” according to the questionnaire.

“We have received a lot of questions and inquiries about the two candidates in a heated runoff for Louisiana governor,” Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, writes in a column on the group’s website.

Clapper asked Louisiana voters to consider the candidates’ records, but also to consider what makes a pro-life governor.

“In conclusion, becoming a pro-life governor takes a person willing to be a proactive and committed leader for life, even when the public is not looking,” Clapper writes. “It takes initiative. It takes commitment. It takes pro-life leadership.As citizens of a pro-life state, we should settle for nothing less.”

Vitter has a 100% pro-life voting record in the U.S. Senate, according to the National Right to Life Committee.