Lawmakers from Louisiana passed a wide-ranging “heartbeat” abortion ban that does not include exceptions for rape and incest, sending it to the governor’s desk for signing. The bill was introduced by “pro-life” GOP Representative Valarie Hodges, who called it “a very solemn responsibility.”
If Governor John Bel Edwards signs it into law, the ban would become one of the most restrictive ones in the country, barring women from having an abortion after a heartbeat has been detected, usually around six weeks.
Doctors performing abortions after this point would face a fine of $1,000 or up to a two-year prison sentence.
The bill, previously cleared by the Senate, caused fierce debate in the House where it eventually passed 79-23. Earlier in the day, the House rejected an amendment brought by Democratic Representative Ted James that would have added an exception for rape or incest. James argued that “we are not that important to make that decision for a woman who’s been raped,” but lawmakers still rejected the move in a 67-35 vote.
The only exception left in the ban is for pregnancies deemed “medically futile”, where the fetus would certainly not survive after birth.
Later on Wednesday, the Louisiana governor confirmed that he would sign the ban, saying that he has been pro-life for a long time and remained true to his word, calling on other supporters in the state’s Congress to join him “in continuing to build a better Louisiana that cares for the least among us and provides more opportunity for everyone.”
”In 2015, I ran for governor as a pro-life candidate after serving as a pro-life legislator for eight years. As governor, I have been true to my word and my beliefs on this issue,” Edwards noted.
Once the bill is signed into law, the state would join four others – Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio – to pass “heartbeat” bills in the past few months. The bill’s text says that the Louisiana abortion ban would only come into force if a similar one in Mississippi is upheld in a federal appeals court.
Last week, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Mississippi ban from taking effect, arguing that it violates women’s health care rights.
The five bills are an attempt to have the Roe v. Wade ruling, which gave women the right to an abortion in 1973, overturned.