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John Bel Edwards declines to share personal views on leaked draft of SCOTUS abortion opinion

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards

This story was first published by the Louisiana Illuminator. You can read the original coverage here.

Gov. John Bel Edwards declined Wednesday to share his personal views on a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that indicates the court is leaning toward overturning Roe vs. Wade – the landmark court decision that guarantees access to abortion across the country.

When asked about the draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, Edwards confirmed it would trigger a 2006 Louisiana law drafted to ban almost all abortion if it becomes the final ruling. If Roe is scuttled, Louisiana will ban all abortion unless it is needed to prevent the death of a pregnant person or permanent harm to a “life-sustaining organ” of a pregnant person, according to the state law on the books.

“I don’t want to go beyond that,” the governor said in an interview after a press conference focused on hurricane preparedness. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has emphasized that the leaked opinion is only a draft and “subject to change,” Edwards said.

Edwards, the state’s top Democrat and an attorney, has been staunchly and proudly anti-abortion since first joining the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2008. He voted for anti-abortion bills as a legislator and has signed anti-abortion laws as governor. His anti-abortion stance was part of his platform when he ran for governor in 2015 and 2019.

If almost all abortions are declared illegal in Louisiana, Edwards said Louisiana should consider putting more resources into programs that help pregnant people, parents of children who may lack resources, and foster care. He said his administration hasn’t had any in-depth discussions about what resources might be needed because the draft opinion only became public Monday night.

Regardless of the legality of abortion, Edwards said he has been in favor of expanding government resources for young parents and pregnant people for years. He sees providing assistance to people with children and expectant parents as part of his larger “pro-life” outlook, he said.

Edwards' comments came shortly before the Louisiana House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice moved forward legislation sponsored by Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, to classify abortion as murder in Louisiana, regardless of existing laws or court rulings that might state otherwise. In Louisiana, a conviction of murder automatically comes with a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

McCormick’s House Bill 813 would also allow the state attorney general to prosecute the proposed crime of abortion if a local district attorney declined to do so. Critics say the legislation could also criminalize not just abortion, but also emergency contraception and failure of in vitro fertilization treatments.

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