News Analysis

A pro-life Democrat wins a notable victory

John Bel Edwards: principled stand (Getty)

The Democratic Party’s activists and donor class may not care for pro-life Democrats, but at least in some places, their voters do. John Bel Edwards, a pro-life Democrat who signed a foetal heartbeat bill earlier this year, was re-elected to a second term this month.

His success is especially notable given the fact that Donald Trump remains popular in Louisiana, and he campaigned for Edwards’s opponent. It’s also significant because he is a different model than the type of politicians Democrats typically run in purple districts. Rather than a fiscally neoliberal but socially progressive type, Edwards is the opposite.

According to another pro-life Democrat in the state legislature, the heartbeat bill was a real moment of principle on Edwards’s part. “What it said when he signed it that quickly without doubt was that ‘I’m pro-life, and regardless of a campaign, regardless of pushback, regardless of what’s being said, I’m going to stand on that principle,’” senator-elect Katrina Jackson told the Catholic News Agency.

The Vatican’s Academy of Social Sciences welcomed Edwards’s victory, tweeting: “We are delighted with the re-election of @LouisianaGov John Bel Edwards, who will continue to govern for the common good, for the good of his people and especially for the eradication of all forms of #HumanTrafficking.”

Edwards met Pope Francis in 2017 on a visit to Italy focused on combating human trafficking. He has also served as a extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

He has supported Medicaid expansion in his state, as well as prison reform and a pay pay rise for teachers.
The New York Times downplayed the national significance of pro-life Democrats like Edwards, writing that “If there were labs in which political strategists could concoct a politician with a policy profile and personal background perfectly matched with the chemistry of their state, then Democrats in a state like Louisiana – which is socially conservative, yet populist in a workaday way … – would probably craft a candidate who looks, sounds and talks just like John Bel Edwards.”