Gov. John Bel Edwards says he "would be inclined to sign" legislation to ban abortions in Louisiana after 15 weeks of pregnancy – a move that, if upheld in an inevitable legal challenge, would restrict the allowable period by five weeks in the state.
Edwards, a Democrat who campaigned on his position against abortion rights, made the comments during his monthly radio show on Wednesday – a day after a federal judge temporarily blocked Mississippi's strictest-in-the-nation ban on abortions after 15 weeks.
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's governor signed a law Monday banning most abortions after 15 weeks' gestations, the tightest restrictions …
Louisiana, which tends to be among states with the tightest restrictions on abortion access, currently prohibits abortion after 20 weeks.
Edwards said he would need to see specific legislation before committing, but he has no opposition to the concept of barring abortions after the 15-week period.
"As people know, or should know, I am very much a pro-life individual," he said.
He compared his views on abortion to his decision to expand Medicaid in Louisiana, providing health care coverage to nearly 470,000 people since his executive order in 2016.
"The same Catholic Christian faith that informs my view on abortion also informs my view on Medicaid expansion," he said. "It just happens that one of those positions is deemed to be on the conservative side of things and one on the liberal or progressive side."
Sen. John Milkovich, D-Keithville, has filed a 15-week ban bill that is pending a hearing in the Senate Judiciary C Committee. The Legislature is in its second week of the general session, which must end by June 4.
“The abortionists are relentless in their assault against the unborn,” Milkovich said in a written statement on the filing of Senate Bill 181. “We intend to fight three times harder and end the scourge of abortion in Louisiana. It is my hope this legislation will assist in this fight.”
Under Milkovich's bill, anyone who performs an abortion after the 15-week period could face up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Edwards said he has not spoken to any legislators nor special interest groups about the potential for a 15-week abortion ban here.
"I would be inclined to sign it if it hits my desk, but I have not yet had any conversations about that particular bill," he said on his radio show.
The Center for Reproductive Rights didn't immediately respond to The Advocate's request for comment on Edwards' remarks.
In opposing Mississippi's similar law, the national organization, which supports abortion rights, argued that courts have consistently struck down similar bans on abortion before viability as unconstitutional.
“All women deserve access to safe and legal abortion care, no matter their zip code," Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement this week on Mississippi's law. "Yet Mississippi politicians have shown once again that they will stop at nothing to deny women this fundamental right, targeting the state’s last remaining clinic in defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court and decades of settled precedent. Politicians are not above the rule of law, and we are confident this dangerous bill will be struck down like every similar attempt before it.”
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the measure into law there on Monday. The federal judge temporary blocked it after Mississippi’s only abortion clinic filed a lawsuit challenging the new restriction.
Other bills that have been filed in Louisiana on abortion include another proposal by Milkovich that would allow district attorneys to shut down abortion clinics if there is reason to believe that the clinic has violated laws that restrict abortions for minors or other regulations. Senate Bill 325 also is pending a hearing in Judiciary C.
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