Published: Fri, May 31, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards To Sign Latest Fetal Heartbeat Ban

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards To Sign Latest Fetal Heartbeat Ban

Louisiana lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, joining a string of other U.S. states restricting the termination of pregnancies as early as six weeks.

By a vote of 79-23, the lawmakers banned abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy.

The fetal heartbeat abortion ban applies to pregnancies as early as six weeks, before some woman even know they are pregnant and include exceptions only for "medically futile" instances where the mother's health is at risk or the baby is stillborn.

Louisiana is the fifth state to pass a heartbeat law, after Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Mississippi.

None of the laws have gone into effect and all are expected to face legal challenges by groups like the ACLU and the other pro-choice organizations.

On another front in the battle, Planned Parenthood sued the Missouri department of health on Tuesday after the department told the state's only abortion clinic it could not approve a license until it interviewed seven doctors that worked there. It takes effect only if Mississippi's law is upheld by a federal appeals court.

Alabama governor Kay Ivey signed the most severe abortion ban in the nation on Tuesday night, making performing an abortion a felony in almost all cases.

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Although similar abortion bans have drawn sharp criticism from Democrats nationwide, Louisiana's proposal won wide bipartisan support and was sponsored by a Democrat from the north-west corner of the state, Senator John Milkovich.

"My position hasn't changed: In eight years in the Legislature, I was a pro-life legislator, 100 percent with the Louisiana Right to Life", Mr. Edwards said recently. He had repeatedly said he meant to sign the measure, citing his faith and saying his views match those of people in his conservative, religious state, who he described as "overwhelmingly pro-life".

The bill reads: "It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly perform an abortion with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being when a fetal heartbeat has been detected".

The rush to restrict abortion comes as opponents push for new restrictions in the hope that the more conservative-led US Supreme Court will overturn the Roe vs Wade case.

"Senate Bill 184 is a plainly unconstitutional reminder of just how far Louisiana politicians are willing to go to interfere in these deeply personal medical decisions and force women to continue pregnancies against their will" she added.

The U.S. Supreme Court may eventually be called upon to rule on the various state laws, which challenge the high court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has been vocal in his support for an abortion ban and has made it clear he would break with his party to approve such a measure if it came to him.

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