POLITICS

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards Signs 6-Week Abortion Ban

The Democratic governor is the latest to sign a "fetal heartbeat" bill.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed a controversial measure on Thursday that would outlaw abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

Edwards’ signature comes a day after the Louisiana House passed what it termed a “fetal heartbeat” bill, which bans abortion as soon as a doctor can detect cardiac activity in an embryo. However, the law will take effect only if a similar Mississippi law is upheld by a federal appeals court.

The governor indicated earlier that he would sign it.

“I know there are many who feel just as strongly as I do on abortion and disagree with me ― and I respect their opinions,” Edwards said in a statement Wednesday. “As I prepare to sign this bill, I call on the overwhelming bipartisan majority of legislators who voted for it to join me in continuing to build a better Louisiana that cares for the least among us and provides more opportunity for everyone.”

Edwards is one of few high-profile Democrats to back anti-abortion legislation; similar efforts to create abortion cutoff dates in Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi and Missouri have all been led by Republicans. Now, abortion rights groups are calling on Democratic Party officials to withdraw their support for all anti-abortion candidates regardless of party affiliation. 

Abortion is already difficult for women in Louisiana to access. The state currently has only three abortion clinics, down from seven in 2011, and women who want the procedure in the state must make multiple trips to the provider, receive an ultrasound and sit through mandatory counseling. 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

CONVERSATIONS