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Louisiana’s Democratic governor will sign pro-life law

Pope Francis poses for a photo with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano, handout)

Louisiana’s Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, a Catholic, said he will sign into law a measure that makes nearly all abortions illegal in the state once the fetal heartbeat is detected, which could be as early as six weeks.

In a 79-23 vote, the state House approved the so-called “heartbeat bill” May 29. The state Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill May 6. It has no exceptions for rape or incest but would allow abortions only to prevent a pregnant woman’s death or in cases of “serious risk” to her health.

“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 in a statement issued shortly after the bill was passed. “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 governor, pointing to his long pro-life record, stated: “In 2015, I ran for governor as a pro-life candidate after serving as a pro-life legislator for eight as a legislator for eight years. As governor, I have been true to my word and my beliefs on this issue. But it is also my sincere belief that being pro-life means more than being pro-birth.”

Edwards noted a variety issues he has acted on to protect and support life, including expanding access to health care “for working Louisianans,” which he did when he was first elected governor, and he said he also has worked with the Legislature to expand investment in education and reform the state’s criminal justice system.

He also pointed to more adoptions and foster care placements that have occurred during his administration, his efforts on behalf of protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination in the workplace, raising the minimum wage and supporting that women be paid the same as men “for doing the same job.”