WASHINGTON — Gov. John Bel Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, has drawn the ire of fellow Democrats in influential roles across the country after he signed one of the nation's strictest abortion bans into law on Thursday.
Some Republicans on the national scene have praised the law's passage and Edwards for bucking his party to sign it into law.
But U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the law, which doesn't take effect unless a similar Mississippi law survives a court challenge, "a heartbreaking and nationwide assault against women’s reproductive freedoms." U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, called it a "dangerous attack" on women. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent in his current role who is also seeking the Democratic nomination, called Edwards' OK of the bill an "outrage." Seema Nanda, the CEO of Democratic National Committee, vowed to fight against the law.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has signed one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion bills into law, a measure that would ban…
Louisiana lawmakers have passed a bill that would ban abortions at about six weeks of pregnancy if upheld by the courts, sending it to the gov…
Edwards, who is running for re-election this year, campaigned four years ago on his pro-gun, anti-abortion stances, even highlighting his stray from the Democratic Party on abortion in a deeply personal campaign ad that told how he and his wife, Donna, rejected a doctor's advice to abort their oldest child because she would be born with a birth defect.
During eight years in the state House and three as governor, he's consistently supported efforts to roll back abortion rights in Louisiana.
"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 just before signing the legislation Thursday. "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.”
But the latest law, which seeks to outlaw abortion when a heartbeat is detected — about six weeks of pregnancy — with no exceptions for victims of rape and incest, comes on the heels of similar laws passed in other states that have drawn national attention.
The New Jersey Globe reported that incoming Democratic Governors Association chair Phil Murphy of New Jersey sidestepped a question about whether he would support Edwards in his re-election bid this fall, but the DGA has continued to back Edwards' campaign.
Two Republicans who also publicly support restrictions on abortion — U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone — are challenging Edwards in the race. The election is Oct. 12. A Nov. 16 runoff will take place if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary.
Here are how some other Democrats are responding to Edwards signing the "fetal heartbeat" bill into law:
Pelosi, of California:
“Louisiana’s draconian new abortion ban is the latest in a heartbreaking and nationwide assault against women’s reproductive freedoms. These bans show a staggering lack of respect for women: for their health, for their control over their bodies and for their right to make decisions about the timing and size of their families.
“Every woman, everywhere has the constitutional and moral right to basic reproductive health care. We will fight these immoral and dangerous attacks on women’s health and freedoms with all our strength.”
Sanders, of Vermont:
The Democratic governor of Louisiana is signing draconian anti-abortion legislation today. This is an outrage. Regardless of party, we must vigorously defend a woman's constitutional right to control her own body. https://t.co/Bv1fcVEuhi— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 30, 2019
Harris, of California:
Dangerous attacks on women’s constitutional right to an abortion are outrageous no matter what party you’re in. My message to the Gov. of Louisiana: women have agency, women have value, women have authority to make decisions about their own lives—and we will not go backward. https://t.co/oi7vgy90ej— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 30, 2019
Let me be clear. The @DNC opposes Louisiana’s abortion ban in the strongest possible terms. Reproductive freedom is a central tenet of our party’s platform, and we will continue to fight for a woman’s fundamental right to make decisions about her own body with her doctor.— Seema Nanda (@SeemaNanda) May 31, 2019
2020 presidential hopeful Julian Castro, of Texas:
I'll say it again: In this political climate, I will only support Democrats for office who will defend a woman's constitutional right to an abortion. https://t.co/9IAEUEOVl0— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) May 30, 2019
2020 presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke, of Texas:
We will fight radical, unconstitutional attacks on women in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri — in every state and every part of this country. No governor — Republican or Democrat — should sign legislation that would take away a woman’s right to access an abortion.— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) May 30, 2019
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a 2020 hopeful from New York:
They said we were "overreacting" to right-wing extremists being appointed to the courts.I beg to differ. The threat to Roe v. Wade is real, with Louisiana joining a growing list of states hoping to overturn it.We have every reason to be infuriated.https://t.co/1IYS3DLFEe— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) May 29, 2019
2020 hopeful John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado:
I don't agree with @LouisianaGov John Bel Edwards's decision. In CO, we empowered women to make their own decisions with affordable birth control. The results speak for themselves - teen abortions down 64%, teen pregnancy down 54%. As President, I'd take that program nationwide. https://t.co/AbP8ghAOO3— John Hickenlooper (@Hickenlooper) May 30, 2019
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign:
.@HRC opposes attempts to restrict a person's right to an abortion, full stop. We join our partners and allies in standing against these unconstitutional attacks on reproductive rights in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and now, Louisiana.— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) May 30, 2019
U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, of California:
This post will be updated with more reactions. See someone we've missed? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.