Governor John Bel Edwards has signed Louisiana’s abortion ban into law, making the southern state the fifth to enact a law prohibiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically as early as six weeks, which is before most women know they’re pregnant.
Alabama’s law, which bans abortions from the moment of conception, surpasses these states in severity. But like that law, Louisiana’s new ban does not contain any exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest.
Governor Edwards is the first Democrat to back one of the many attempts to overturn Roe v Wade with deliberately unconstitutional language currently sweeping the US.
Like all the bans, it will not take effect immediately, and abortion remains legal and accessible in Louisiana for now. However, restrictive laws already in place, which work around the Supreme Court decision to make abortion difficult to access, leave the state in an already precarious position.
Mr Edwards has been open about his stance against abortion rights throughout his career, and was clear that he would sign the bill when it reached him.
Though differing on abortion rights from most of his party, he was still supported by the Democratic National Committee. In a statement celebrating his election in November 2015, then-DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote: “John Bel Edwards’ commitment to expanding quality health care to hundreds of thousands of Louisianans … is a message that Democrats all across the country can run on and win with in 2016.”
A tweet from Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which covers Louisiana, called Thursday “a dark day in Louisiana’s history”.
“But as our supporters showed today,” the tweet said, “we will never stop fighting these attacks on our reproductive rights and freedoms. Louisianans deserve better.”
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