BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Following in the footsteps of Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama, Louisiana lawmakers are now poised to pass their version of a bill that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
At a press conference Thursday, May 16, Governor John Bel Edwards was asked about the legislation.
“In eight years in the legislature, I was a pro-life legislator, 100 percent with the Louisiana Right to Life,” Edwards said. “When I ran for governor, I said I was pro-life and so that’s something that’s consistent.”
On Wednesday, the House Health and Welfare Committee backed the bill without objection, sending it to the House floor for a vote.
Opponents of Sen. John Milkovich’s, D-Shreveport, bill argue most women do not know they are pregnant at the time a heartbeat is first detected.
"Almost every leading medical association has agreed that banning abortions before viability, which is when a fetus could potentially live viably outside of the mother’s womb, serves absolutely no health benefits and really just skirts what most medical practitioners would advise their patients of,” said Michelle Erenberg, executive director and co-founder of LIFT Louisiana.
The bill does not include exceptions for rape or incest.
"A woman who has been assaulted, been a victim of a crime such as rape or incest, would be forced to carry that pregnancy for nine months and to carry the memory and the burden of the trauma of that experience with her for nine months and I think that is just inconceivable to most people, but apparently it’s not too far for our legislators,” she said.
Ben Clapper with Louisiana Right to Life says those children still deserve a chance at life.
“Rape and incest are terrible, awful things, but we shouldn’t punish the child for the sins of the father in this situation,” Clapper said. “They need to be given the same protection that other unborn babies and other humans for that matter are given.”
Governor Edwards is expected to sign the bill into law should it pass through the legislature. If it’s passed, the law would not go into effect until a similar law passed in Mississippi clears its legal challenges.