Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards says he will sign a bill that bans abortions when a baby’s heartbeat begins. The Louisiana legislature is pushing through the heartbeat bill to make it the next state to ban abortions this year – following states like Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri.
The Heartbeat Bill, when it goes into effect, will prohibit abortion when a human heartbeat can be detected. An abdominal ultrasound can detect a heartbeat between eight and twelve weeks.
Edwards is a Democrat but he is one of the few pro-life Democrats in a prominent elected position nationwide.
“My inclination is to sign it,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards, according to the Monroe News Star.
“It’s consistent with my unblemished pro-life record in my years as a legislator and governor,” he said earlier this month.
Last year, Edwards signed a bill to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The governor has cited his Catholic faith as influencing his pro-life beliefs.
“I know that for many in the national party, on the national scene, that’s not a good fit. But I will tell you, here in Louisiana, I speak and meet with Democrats who are pro-life every single day,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
Edwards ran for governor on a pro-life platform. In a TV advertisement in 2015, his wife Donna had spoke about her first pregnancy. She said they were pressured to have an abortion by the doctor after they found out their daughter had spina bifida. They couple refused, and their daughter is now married and employed as a school counselor.
“I was 20 weeks pregnant with our first child when the doctor discovered she had Spina Bifida and encouraged me to have an abortion. I was devastated, but John Bel never flinched. He just said ‘No, no we are going to love this baby no matter what’,” said Donna in the video.
The measure is Senate Bill 184 by Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, and Louisiana’s proposed bill is modeled after a similar Mississippi law that is being debated in a federal appeals court. It would only go into effect if the Mississippi bill is upheld.
“States across the nation are saying, ‘We are no longer going to devalue life,” Milkovich said. “We are going to acknowledge the sanctity of human life.’”
Passage comes as a new Hill-HarrisX survey found that 55 percent of voters support Heartbeat abortion bans and said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive, according to The Hill.
“The people who say abortion should be legal in all cases or illegal in all cases is a minority,” researcher Daniel Cox with the American Enterprise Institute told Hill.TV. “The vast majority of Americans are somewhere in the middle that abortion should be legal under some circumstances and there’s some significant variation.”
The May 10-11 poll found that 21 percent of voters said six-week abortion bans are “too lenient,” 34 percent said they are “just right” and 45 percent said they are “too restrictive.”
A recent Marist Poll found that 80% of Americans want to limit abortions no later than three months of pregnancy (12 weeks), and another poll found that 56% of voters are in favor of Heartbeat Bills specifically.
This year, pro-life lawmakers have introduced a number of heartbeat bills including in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recentlymade Ohio the 6th state to make it law.
Kentucky also passed a heartbeat law this year, but a federal judge already has blocked it.
Some pro-lifers have renewed hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.
The Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead allowed abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks. There is more hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court may consider overturning Roe, but it is difficult to say if it would for certain.