Advocate file photo of Governor John Bel Edwards

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.

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: 

Harris, of California:


2020 presidential hopeful Julian Castro, of Texas:

2020 presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke, of Texas:

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a 2020 hopeful from New York:

2020 hopeful John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado:

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign:

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, of California:

This post will be updated with more reactions. See someone we've missed? Email: ecrisp@theadvocate.com

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.