WASHINGTON — Nearly a quarter of Louisiana residents polled by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute say they oppose abortion, even in cases of rape and incest — a rate higher than any other state in the poll. 

The state has some of the nation's strictest anti-abortion laws, including a law passed this year that would prohibit women from ending a pregnancy once a fetal heartbeat has been detected.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, is a supporter of anti-abortion legislation and signed the heartbeat bill into law.

In Louisiana, 23 percent of those polled said that abortion should be illegal in all cases. According to PRRI's survey, 5 percent of residents polled in Vermont oppose abortion — fewer than any other state.

About 34 percent of Louisiana residents surveyed said abortion should be legal in most or all cases and more than half said it should be illegal in most cases.

Louisiana lawmakers earlier this year overwhelmingly voted in favor of banning abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy under the “heartbeat” legislation. Similar to a previous law limiting abortion to 15 weeks, Louisiana’s “heartbeat” law can take effect only if Mississippi’s similar law is upheld in court.

Louisiana currently bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Another law that would require physicians to have admitting privileges to be able to terminate a pregnancy in Louisiana is under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Edwards, who has a record of supporting abortion restrictions, has faced some pushback from more liberal Democrats over his support for the bill, but generally has remained popular. Edwards is facing two Republicans, Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, of Alto, along with six other candidates in his bid for re-election this fall. A runoff will be held Nov. 16 if no candidate gets more than 50 percent in the Oct. 12 primary.

According to PRRI's analysis of the survey's results, younger people are likelier than older Americans to say abortion should be legal in most or all cases.

The poll is based on 40,292 telephone interviews conducted nationally between March 14, 2018 and Dec. 16, 2018. The margin of error is about 0.5 percentage points and the level of confidence is about 95 percent.

Email Elizabeth Crisp at ecrisp@theadvocate.com and follow on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.