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Louisiana sends 'heartbeat' abortion ban bill to governor's desk

Louisiana lawmakers voted Wednesday to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable -- as early as six weeks into a pregnancy -- with no exceptions for...

Posted: May 30, 2019 9:21 AM

Louisiana lawmakers voted Wednesday to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable -- as early as six weeks into a pregnancy -- with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Louisiana joins Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri, which have all passed so-called "heartbeat" bills this year. Along with Alabama's near-total ban on abortion, the heartbeat bills are part of a conservative nationwide push to bring a Supreme Court challenge to the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the US.

The Louisiana measure -- which Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards says he will sign -- passed the state House in a 79-23 vote and would "prohibit the abortion of an unborn human being with a detectable heartbeat."

That can come as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. The bill would require an ultrasound prior to an abortion and subject doctors who perform abortions after a heartbeat is detected with a $1,000 fine or up to two years in prison.

The bill does not make exceptions for instances of rape or incest. Democratic state Rep. Ted James introduced an amendment to include those exceptions, arguing that "we are not that important to make that decision for a woman who's been raped," but the move failed 35-67.

The bill would allow for abortions preventing a pregnant woman's death or "serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function," and would require doctors who perform abortions under such circumstances to specify their eligibility in writing.

Abortions on "medically futile" fetuses that would not survive past birth are also not subject to the restrictions.

Edwards, who bills himself as "pro-life," said in a statement Wednesday that he will sign the bill, stating, "I have been true to my word and my beliefs on this issue." He added that it's his "sincere belief that being pro-life means more than just being pro-birth."

"I know there are many who feel just as strongly as I do on abortion and disagree with me -- and I respect their opinions," he 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 bill was introduced by Republican state Rep. Valarie Hodges, who called it "a very solemn responsibility."

"I'm proud to stand with this legislature and the state of Louisiana because we are very pro-life," she said.

Democratic state Rep. Patricia Smith accused legislators opposed to exemptions for rape and incest of making decisions for a "child who's carrying a child."

"How dare you tell a 9-year-old, a 10-year-old, an 11-year-old, a 12-year-old that they're supposed to carry a baby for an uncle, a father, a nephew or someone in their family that's taken advantage of them, how dare you," she said. "How dare you not allow a family to make decision for that child who's carrying a child."

Hodges responded that "while we have tremendous empathy" for victims of rape or incest, "if anyone should be put to death, it should be the perpetrator of the crime -- not the child, not the baby."

Republican state Rep. Julie Stokes referenced President Donald Trump's tweeted views on abortion in support of her proposed amendment to allow abortions for up to 10 weeks for rape and incest victims.

"Our President said that he is strongly pro-life with three exceptions: rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother -- the same position taken by Ronald Reagan," she said.

That amendment ultimately failed 34-67.

The bill's sponsor, Democratic state Sen. John Milkovich, promised to "take the fight to the abortion cartel" during a news conference on the State Capitol steps after the bill's passage Wednesday.

"We choose to confront the culture of death -- the abortion industry has taken its war against our children to our very doorstep, and we have determined to take the fight to the abortion cartel through the law and prayer to stop the horrific infanticide which is being inflicted upon our children," he said. "We will continue to fight for the next generations of Louisianans."

Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leanna Wen blasted the lawmakers for joining other states that have moved to restrict abortion access.

"By passing this extreme abortion ban today, anti-women's health politicians in Louisiana voted to join their counterparts in places like Alabama, Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and Georgia to devastate the health and well-being of women and families," she said in a statement. "Banning abortion will not stop abortion -- but it will end access to safe, legal abortion care."

Alanah Odoms Hebert, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, slammed the bill as "plainly unconstitutional."

"We're committed to making sure this brazen attack on the constitutional right to abortion access never takes effect," she said in a statement.

When asked by CNN whether the Louisiana ACLU would mount a legal challenge to the bill should Edwards sign it as expected, Hebert pointed to the bill's stipulation that it would only be enforced should a federal appeals court uphold a similar Mississippi law and the ACLU's "nationwide fight" with existing lawsuits in Kentucky, Ohio and Alabama.

"The bottom line: the ACLU of Louisiana and our partners are committed to making sure women in Louisiana and across the country have access to safe, legal abortion care -- without punishment, shame or stigma," she said.

Companion legislation passed the state Senate earlier this month, and Edwards said at the time he would sign the bill if it lands on his desk.

"My position hasn't changed. In eight years in the Legislature, I was a pro-life legislator," Edwards told reporters during a press conference earlier this month. "When I ran for governor, I said that I was pro-life. And so that's something that's consistent."

This story has been updated.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1560117

Reported Deaths: 20796
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2118112563
Lake1021301523
Allen964791027
Hamilton75541551
St. Joseph66476761
Elkhart51045634
Vanderburgh50511531
Tippecanoe45721338
Johnson39600527
Hendricks37933463
Porter35132476
Madison30330547
Clark27296331
Vigo26401347
Monroe24100249
LaPorte23921313
Howard23237381
Delaware22453370
Hancock19314220
Bartholomew18980216
Kosciusko18400204
Warrick17733216
Wayne16982303
Floyd16686257
Grant15966300
Morgan15091232
Boone13924138
Dearborn12235113
Shelby12225152
Noble12170142
Henry12027202
Dubois11696152
Marshall11625171
Jackson11111104
Cass10578143
Lawrence10529221
Huntington10523140
DeKalb10482132
Gibson10114127
Montgomery9671144
Harrison9471117
Knox9415125
Whitley902571
Steuben8934105
Putnam8542100
Miami8533135
Clinton849397
Jasper8462116
Jefferson8319127
Wabash8027140
Ripley7504117
Scott685787
Adams6829103
Daviess6825130
White638184
Greene6317112
Clay628975
Decatur6261121
Jennings619781
Wells6090121
Fayette6054122
Posey580148
LaGrange549097
Randolph5364129
Washington528071
Owen5211100
Fountain493681
Spencer467456
Sullivan462066
Fulton450993
Orange449784
Starke448887
Rush433941
Jay432564
Perry409155
Carroll394749
Franklin394650
Vermillion370762
Pike334246
Parke331239
Tipton330475
Blackford282255
Pulaski281775
Brown239856
Newton239761
Benton228921
Crawford224932
Switzerland207914
Martin196722
Warren183922
Union178119
Ohio129216
Unassigned0763

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2515949

Reported Deaths: 31987
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2719422100
Cuyahoga2606673087
Hamilton1758091756
Montgomery1177451651
Summit1089011418
Lucas935321193
Butler83907963
Stark771001431
Lorain64214809
Warren53428489
Mahoning51224930
Lake47591611
Clermont46928452
Delaware41107220
Trumbull39746790
Licking38790416
Medina38646427
Fairfield35828349
Greene34313435
Portage32429366
Clark32361453
Richland29653444
Wood29379301
Allen25875403
Miami24243408
Muskingum23564255
Columbiana23046409
Wayne22093365
Tuscarawas19637428
Marion18616235
Erie18608224
Ashtabula18569362
Scioto18159214
Ross17594260
Pickaway16419181
Hancock16115232
Geauga15511229
Lawrence15094186
Belmont14236248
Union1419584
Huron13908184
Jefferson13656261
Sandusky13268200
Athens12877107
Knox12160201
Seneca12055204
Darke11440202
Ashland11248184
Washington11152172
Auglaize10873147
Crawford10432178
Shelby10402160
Brown10094145
Highland9746151
Fulton9726154
Guernsey9683122
Defiance9567137
Logan9470147
Clinton9428132
Mercer9099112
Madison9032111
Preble8524170
Williams8305138
Putnam8069136
Champaign8040113
Ottawa7971123
Jackson7848121
Perry7514102
Coshocton7411136
Morrow729184
Fayette715992
Pike666689
Hardin6564133
Gallia638891
Adams6227127
Van Wert6065121
Henry602596
Hocking5918105
Wyandot503594
Carroll5009101
Holmes4880167
Paulding426465
Meigs400974
Monroe316468
Harrison299162
Noble296952
Morgan292748
Vinton258646
Unassigned08
Fort Wayne
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Hi: 21° Lo: 2°
Feels Like: -17°
Angola
Cloudy
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Feels Like: -8°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
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Hi: 19° Lo: -1°
Feels Like: -11°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
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Hi: 21° Lo: 1°
Feels Like: -17°
Van Wert
Clear
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Bitterly cold wind chills are expected across the region Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.
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