Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed a 15-week abortion ban into law Wednesday, weeks after the state legislature sent the bill to his desk. The bill bans abortion after 15 weeks except in the cases of a medical emergency.
If a doctor performs the procedure, they’d be imprisoned for at least one year (and up to ten years) and fined anywhere between $10,000 to $100,000. The state Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor of the bill (24-5).
Roughly 94 percent of abortions in Louisiana take place before 15 weeks, according to one estimate from Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast.
Louisiana’s 15-week ban will only go into effect if a federal court upholds a similar ban in Mississippi. Mississippi’s 15-week ban was blocked by a federal judge just 24 hours after it passed in March. Louisana lawmakers have asked Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry to file a legal brief in federal court supporting Mississippi’s 15-week ban, according to the Associated Press.
Edwards campaigned against abortion rights and said in March he’d be “inclined to sign” a 15-week ban. “As people know, or should know, I am very much a pro-life individual,” Edwards said on his radio show.
Edwards also likened his anti-choice views on abortion to his decision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in Louisiana, which provided insurance to nearly 470,000 people since 2016.
“The same Catholic Christian faith that informs my view on abortion also informs my view on Medicaid expansion,” he said. “It just happens that one of those positions is deemed to be on the conservative side of things and one on the liberal or progressive side.”
Courts are usually the last line of defense for pro-choice advocates looking to challenge restrictive abortion laws.This is why advocates are concerned with the record pace in which President Donald Trump is filling federal judgeship — many of whom expressed anti-abortion sentiments. The Senate Judiciary Committee recently voted to clear the nomination of Wendy Vitter — who has anti-abortion views — for a federal judgeship in New Orleans. She is now awaiting a full Senate vote.
Mississippi’s 15-week ban is largely viewed as way to overturn the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in 1973. In 2006, Louisiana enacted a near-total abortion ban to become effective should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.
Louisiana already has many restrictive abortion bans on the books. The state bans abortion at 20 weeks gestational age.
This story has been updated to reflect that Gov. Edwards signed the bill into law.