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Gov. John Bel Edwards signs abortion bill — with no exceptions for rape, incest — into law

Gov. John Bel Edwards pictured at the statehouse in Baton Rouge. Louisiana's governor, a Democrat who has supported abortion restrictions in the past, signed a bill into law on June 21, 2022, that would criminalize providers of the procedure and make no exceptions for rape or incest.
Wallis Watkins
/
WRKF
Gov. John Bel Edwards pictured at the statehouse in Baton Rouge. Louisiana's governor, a Democrat who has supported abortion restrictions in the past, signed a bill into law on June 21, 2022, that would criminalize providers of the procedure and make no exceptions for rape or incest.

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed sweeping legislation Tuesday that would criminalize abortion in Louisiana and ban the procedure in nearly all circumstances from the moment of implantation if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The legislation does not include exceptions for rape and incest.


UPDATE: Abortions to resume at Louisiana clinic after state judge temporarily blocks trigger bans


Senate Bill 342 by Sen. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) updates Louisiana’s 2006 abortion “trigger law” and more than a dozen other prospective abortion restrictions and is the product of lawmakers’ close collaboration with the anti-abortion group Louisiana Right to Life.

The bill stiffens the criminal penalties for abortion providers already outlined in state law, doubling the maximum sentences to 10 and 15 years, depending on when an abortion is performed during a pregnancy.

Pregnant women are explicitly excluded from prosecution for the “crime of abortion,” but critics of the bill say its broadened definition of personhood could expose doctors and patients alike to prosecution for homicide and dozens of other offenses in the state’s criminal code.

The bill added medically futile and ectopic pregnancies to the list of circumstances in which an abortion would be allowed, but the bill’s sponsors fought off multiple attempts to include rape and incest exceptions

“My position on abortion has been unwavering,” Edwards said in a statement. “I am pro-life and have never hidden from that fact. This does not belie my belief that there should be an exception to the prohibition on abortion for victims of rape and incest.”

“However, vetoing Senate Bill 342 would not accomplish that end. In fact, vetoing Senate Bill 342 would leave fewer exceptions in place than if the bill becomes law and would further confuse whether pregnancy begins at fertilization or implantation. For these reasons, I have signed Senate Bill 342 into law.”

Edwards’ statement made no mention of the bill’s inclusion of increased criminal penalties for abortion providers or the litany of new legal requirements a person would have to satisfy to end a medically futile or dangerous pregnancy.

The legislation also clarifies that abortions would be prohibited from the moment of implantation — not fertilization, as the old law specified — possibly allowing the continued use of emergency contraception.

Even before Edwards’ action, Louisiana’s trigger law was one of the harshest abortion restrictions in the country, banning the procedure before a person could know they were pregnant and not allowing for exceptions in cases of rape and incest. The law would take effect immediately upon the Supreme Court’s decision to overrule Roe v. Wade in part or in its entirety — an action that is expected to come before the end of the month.

Paul Braun is WRKF's Capitol Access reporter.

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