Abortion-Louisiana Governor (copy) (copy)

Gov. John Bel Edwards in file photo taken on Sept. 20, 2018.

After receiving backlash from parts of his political base for signing a six-week abortion ban into law, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday he is not concerned about losing Democratic support for the move as he runs for re-election this year.

Edwards said while “obviously there were some people who were disappointed” about the new abortion law, “a lot of people” were happy about it. Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, ran on a “pro-life” platform four years ago in a deeply conservative state. Some Democrats, including the state party chair, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson of New Orleans, have criticized the new law.

The ban would prohibit any abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually at around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. It would only go into effect if a similar Mississippi law is upheld in court.

The governor also said the decision to sign the legislation was not a political one. Instead, he said he has been consistent on the abortion issue and “it was me being true to myself and true to what I told the people of Louisiana I was.”

“At the end of the day because of all the good that we've done in Louisiana over the last three and a half years, I fully expect that we're going to be just fine in this race,” he said after a bill signing ceremony for the state budget in Baton Rouge Tuesday afternoon.

The abortion measure stoked controversy and brought national attention to Louisiana as it passed relatively easily through the Legislature before Gov. Edwards signed it late last month.

The law has no exceptions for victims of rape and incest, something critics have called cruel. After signing the bill, some progressive Democrats in the state, particularly women, lashed out at the governor for signing it into law.

It was passed by legislators here as a wave of conservative states passed similar laws aimed at upending Supreme Court precedent that protects abortion rights.


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Louisiana voters are also set to decide next year whether to add anti-abortion language to the state constitution after a constitutional amendment pushed by anti-abortion lawmakers passed through the Legislature in the session that ended June 6.

Edwards spoke about the abortion law following a ceremony at Capitol Elementary where he touted new funding in the state budget for early childhood education, public schools, teachers and colleges.

The governor yesterday returned to Louisiana from New York City, where he said he visited with business and political leaders about his campaign. He did not specify who he met with, but he called it a “positive trip” and said he talked about many of the same things he discussed at the rally Tuesday.



Email Sam Karlin at skarlin@theadvocate.com