Louisiana passes ‘heartbeat’ abortion bill

Abortion activists and anti-abortion activists square off at the Supreme Court. Louisiana joined a growing number of states passing so-called "heartbeat" abortion laws. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

May 30 (UPI) — Louisiana’s legislature passed a bill Wednesday banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, joining a growing list of conservative states in a push to tighten restrictions on the procedure in recent weeks.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 79-23 with no exceptions for incest or rape. It essentially bans all abortions past six weeks of pregnancy.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said he plans to sign the bill.

“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. “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.”

The Louisiana legislature tied the bill to a similar law in Mississippi, which was blocked by a federal judge last week. The Louisiana law will go into effect if the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the Mississippi law.

Louisiana’s new law comes on the heels of a number of other states passing or considering similar laws to limit abortions. Alabama signed the most restrictive yet, a near-total ban on abortions unless the woman’s life is at risk. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

Legislatures in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio passed so-called “heartbeat” bills, banning abortions after eight weeks, earlier this year.

An amendment to add an exemption for rape or incest failed by a 35-67 vote.

“That’s a family decision,” said state Rep. Ted James, who authored the amendment. “That’s not a decision for us. We are not that important to make that decision for a woman who is raped.”


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