Louisiana's Democratic Governor Signs Bill Banning Abortion As Early As 6 Weeks Into Pregnancy

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards
Image: via Getty

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has signed one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country, one that bans abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The ban is similar to the laws restricting abortion recently passed in Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, and Georgia (and in Alabama, which, essentially outright banned abortion), although this time, the governor signing the bill into law is supposed to be on the other side of the aisle. This is, to put it plainly, not good.

Edwards signed the bill on Thursday, according to the Washington Post, following a 79-23 vote by state legislators on Wednesday. The bill intends to ban abortion once an ultrasound can detect a “fetal heartbeat,” which tends to happen about six weeks into pregnancy, before many women and other marginalized genders even realize they’re pregnant, and certainly before most abortion clinics will have appointments available for them.

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Louisiana’s bill does not include exemptions in cases of rape or incest, though it does include an exemption to prevent a pregnant person’s death or “a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” according to the Associated Press.

The bill does not go into effect immediately—as WaPo notes, it “may even end up languishing for years in legal purgatory”—but it is part of a concerted effort by lawmakers in historically anti-abortion states to challenge and eventually overturn Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.

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Earlier this year, the Supreme Court blocked an abortion law in Louisiana that placed such stringent requirements on doctors performing abortions that there would only be one doctor in the whole state able to administer them.

Edwards, a Catholic, is one of a handful of anti-abortion Democrats in Louisiana. He defended his party-defying stance late last year, per WaPo:

“That’s the way I was raised,” Edwards said in an October episode of his monthly radio show. “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.”

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All this is to say, it really does matter whom you vote for, party lines be damned.

CLARIFICATION: This piece has been updated to include marginalized genders affected by anti-abortion bans.

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