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Louisiana's Democratic governor — turning against his own party but embracing his “pro-life” beliefs — just signed one of the strictest abortion bans in the country into law. The law will ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — before many women even know they’re pregnant. There will be no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Gov. John Bel Edwards didn’t hold a public bill signing, but the bill’s approval was announced through his office Thursday night, according to the Associated Press.
Louisiana's “fetal heartbeat” ban — also introduced by a Democrat, state Sen. John Milkovich — easily passed the state’s House of Representatives Wednesday night, and echoes similar laws passed in recent months in Kentucky, Ohio, Mississippi and Georgia. Additionally, Alabama stirred public outrage earlier this month when it passed a law banning nearly all abortions. Those laws were all led by Republicans.
Abortion remains legal nationwide, none of the bans are in effect, and they will all be challenged in court.
In a statement posted to Twitter Wednesday, Edwards defended his decision to support the bill by saying he had uniformly been “pro-life” by opposing abortion, expanding Medicaid and raising the minimum wage.
“As governor, I have been true to my word and my beliefs on this issue,” he wrote.
Louisiana's law will not immediately take effect, as it’s pegged to a case regarding a similar ban in Mississippi that’s winding its way through the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If Mississippi’s version of the so-called “heartbeat” bill is allowed to proceed, then Louisiana’s ban will go into effect.
The legislation, along with many of the other strict abortion bans passed recently in conservative states, is largely seen as an opening salvo in a fight that could head to the Supreme Court and potentially overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Cover: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards holds his hands in prayer during the invocation at the opening of the annual state legislative session in Baton Rouge, La., Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, pool)