The Louisiana House approved a strict new abortion law barring the procedure once a heartbeat is detectable, a point before many women may realize they are pregnant.
By a vote of 79-23, the lawmakers banned abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement that he “ran for governor as a pro-life candidate,” and intended to sign the abortion ban.
“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,” he said.
More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers approved the bill, along with all of the Republicans.
The Louisiana legislation does not include an exception for a pregnancy due to rape or incest. It does allow abortions to prevent a woman’s death or if the pregnancy presents “a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” It also allows an abortion if the pregnancy is “medically futile.”
Six other states — Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri and Alabama — have recently passed laws banning abortion. The Missouri law bars abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy. Alabama‘s law is considered the toughest in the nation, carrying a penalty of up to 99 years for doctors who would defy the ban.