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Gov. Edwards signs abortion bill into law; draws praise and criticism

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 9:04 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law a controversial anti-abortion law that has no exceptions for rape and incest. And pro-life and pro-choice advocates see his action differently.

Angie Thomas is with Louisiana Right-to-Life.

“We are so thankful that Gov. Edwards signed that bill into law. We’re certainly looking forward to the day when Roe. V. Wade is overturned and the abortion issue is turned back to the states and this law will allow Louisiana to be poised to be a pro-life state,” said Thomas.

State Rep. Mandie Landry is a Democrat representing New Orleans in the legislature.

“I’m not surprised that the governor signed this bill. He’s made his anti-choice and anti-woman views clear when he was elected,” said Landry.

Edwards, also a Democrat signed Senate Bill 342 into law. Landry was among the lawmakers in his party who tried to amend the bill before it made it to Edwards’ desk.

“What we were trying to do, a couple of things Democrats were trying to do, we were trying to add a rape and incest exemption. I tried to add a provision that was clear that women who were pregnant, who miscarry or self-manage an abortion would not get arrested, under this bill we are afraid they will be,” she said.

However, the bill was amended in other ways before it received final passage.

“This particular law had what is called a medical fertility exception that was added onto it at the very end of the legislative process which essentially allows with some exceptions for pre-natal diagnoses that are incompatible with life; this is a very limited thing. Again, we do not condone abortion in any way in Louisiana Right-to-Life,” Thomas said.

Edwards in announcing his decision to sign the bill into saw said he favored having exceptions for rape and incest included in the legislation.

In his letter, he wrote, “My position on abortion has been unwavering—I am pro-life and have never hidden from that fact. This does not belie my belief that there should be an exception to the prohibition on abortion for victims of rape and incest. However, vetoing Senate Bill 342 would not accomplish that end.”

Landry slammed Edwards anyway.

“He has tried to say that this bill expands the exceptions to the rape, excuse me, to the abortion ban and that’s not true, it actually restricts them. It makes it a lot harder, for example, for doctors to determine if the life of a mother exception applies, now you need two positions,” she said.

Robert Collins, PhD., is a Dillard University political analyst.

“The governor did say that, that he did favor exceptions for rape and incest, but the reality is, if he had vetoed it he would have been overridden, and even if by some miracle his veto would have sustained those exceptions are already excluded from our previous abortion laws,” said Collins.

And even before Governor Edwards signed the bill into law it was getting lots of national attention while being debated in the state legislature.

“With everybody on heightened alert on Roe v. Wade watch any actions that any state takes right now is going to be scrutinized,” said Collins.

Soon the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to render its ruling on a case that could see Roe V. Wade overturned. Because of Louisiana’s strict so-called trigger law, all abortion clinics in the state would close almost immediately if the high court gets rid of federal abortion rights.

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