In a move that would surely enrage his party, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has signaled his support for pro-life “heartbeat” legislation, a bill that would outlaw abortion after ultrasound detects an unborn child’s heartbeat.
“Heartbeat” laws, which are gaining steam nationwide, effectively ban abortion after just weeks of pregnancy.
What are the details?
Speaking with media last week, Edwards voiced his support for similar legislation making its way through the Louisiana State Legislature.
“In eight years in the legislature, I was a pro-life legislator, 100 percent with the Louisiana Right to Life,” he said, according to WAFB-TV. “When I ran for governor, I said I was pro-life and so that’s something that’s consistent.”
Louisiana’s bill — which is nearing final passage — would “prohibit the abortion of an unborn human being with a detectable heartbeat.” The bill is similar to laws recently passed in Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Louisiana’s bill includes abortion exceptions for pregnancies that pose a “serious risk” to the mother’s health, but not for for rape or incest.
Why is Edwards pro-life?
Aside from personal consistency, the issue is extremely personal for Edwards. Not only does Edwards attribute his pro-life stance to his Catholic faith, but to his daughter, Samantha, who doctors encouraged Edwards and his wife to abort nearly three decades ago after she was diagnosed with spina bifida in utero.
Edwards and his wife, Donna, went against the doctor’s advice — and now Samantha is a healthy, thriving adult.
The Louisiana governor acknowledges he is breaking from traditional Democratic values, but said on his monthly radio show that he is more than OK taking a stand.
“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 Fox News.
Indeed, while Edwards defends unborn children, other Democratic governors defend abortion rights.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed into law a bill in January that essentially permits abortion up to the moment of birth. Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) ignited controversy just week later after he seemingly endorsed infanticide.