John Bel Edwards

Gov. John Bel Edwards came out a winner in the 2019 Legislature, securing more money for teachers and schools and signing abortion restriction measures.

The state of Louisiana will potentially play a pivotal role in the efforts to protect the lives of the unborn. The U.S. Supreme Court has set March 4 of next year as the date justices will hear oral arguments involving a Louisiana law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

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The law is similar to one passed in Texas in 2016 but overturned by the nation's highest court. The court ruled three years ago that requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at local hospitals placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions. But the make-up of the Supreme Court is very different now. Both justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have joined the court since the 2016 ruling.

After the Louisiana law passed, the 5th Circuit Court of appeals upheld it, leading the U.S. Supreme Court to agree to consider the case. The court announced Oct. 4 that it would be taking up the Louisiana challenge, and on Tuesday, set the date for oral arguments.

The pro-abortion advocacy group Center for Reproductive Rights asked the Supreme Court to address the Louisiana law after it was upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of appeals. Nancy Northup, CEO of the group, claims the Louisiana law signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, would have "lasting consequences for abortion access across the country." Abortion proponents claim requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals would force many clinics to close. What they don’t mention is it would also potentially save the lives of the babies targeted by abortionists when and if the clinics close.

Solicitor General Liz Murrill, arguing the case for the state, says the Louisiana law is different from the one passed in Texas based on our state’s history.

"This bipartisan legislation is necessary because Louisiana abortion providers have a long-documented history of medical malpractice, disciplinary actions, and violations of health and safety standards," said Murrill.

Two of Louisiana’s three abortion clinics currently operating don’t have doctors on duty with admitting privileges at local hospitals. If the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Louisiana law, the state would likely be down to one abortion clinic.

Edwards, with cooperation from both Republican and Democratic legislators, also passed laws with even tighter restrictions on abortions. The so-called “heartbeat” law signed by the governor last year would ban abortions in Louisiana once a baby’s heartbeat is detected. This typically happens roughly six weeks into a pregnancy, and often happens before the mother even knows she is pregnant. The Louisiana heartbeat law is similar to other laws passed by other states and is on hold pending legal challenges.

It’s difficult to understand how anyone could consider a child living in a mother’s womb with a beating heart anything but a life. And yet Louisiana state Sens. Wesley Bishop, Troy Carter, Yvonne Colomb, J.P. Morrell, and Karen Carter Peterson, all Democrats, voted against the heartbeat bill. In the House, Neil Abramson, John Bagneris, Joseph Bouie, Barbara Carpenter, Gary Carter, Roy Duplessis, A. B. Franklin, Randal Gaines, Cedric Glover, Jimmy Harris, and Edward “Ted” James, also all Democrats, voted against the heartbeat legislation.

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The Louisiana law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital does not directly challenge Roe v. Wade, the decision that originally legalized abortion in America and has since caused the deaths of more than 60 million babies whose only crime was living in their mother’s womb. If the high court upholds the Louisiana law, it could have a domino effect as more states are beginning to pass new laws restricting access to abortions. Louisiana citizens should be proud of their leaders for taking up the cause of protecting innocent and vulnerable life, especially Edwards, who courageously bucked his own party to do so.

Email Dan Fagan at faganshow@gmail.com.