Louisiana’s legislature passed a bill that bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, putting it one step closer to becoming law.
Senate Bill 184, which would ban abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, passed the Louisiana House of Representatives on Wednesday in a vote of 79 to 23. Earlier this month, the bill passed the state Senate by a vote of 31 to 5.
Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards has indicated that he plans to sign SB 184 into law when it reaches his desk, despite objections from national party leaders.
“In 2015, I ran for governor as a pro-life candidate after serving as a pro-life legislator for eight years,” said Edwards in a statement, according to CBS News.
“As governor, I have been true to my word and my beliefs on this issue. But it is also my sincere belief that being pro-life means more than just being pro-birth.”
Introduced by Democrat Senator John Milkovich of Shreveport, SB 184 prohibits abortion in most circumstances for unborn babies once they have a detectable heartbeat.
“… it shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly perform an abortion with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being when a fetal heartbeat has been detected,” stated the legislation.
SB 184 included an exemption for abortions meant to “prevent the death of a pregnant woman” or “prevent a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
“We believe children are a gift from God,” said Milkovich in comments reported by The Associated Press on May 15, adding, “once a heartbeat is detected, the baby can’t be killed.”
Louisiana’s heartbeat bill is similar to those passed in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio. Missouri lawmakers have passed an eight-week ban on abortion. Alabama has passed the most restrictive ban on abortion by outlawing the procedure even in cases of rape and incest. The state bans are seen by some as a way to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
The Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union denounced the success of SB 184, vowing to use legal action to prevent it from taking effect.
“Louisiana politicians have now sunk to a new low with an extreme ban that would outlaw abortion before many women know they are pregnant,” tweeted the ACLU of Louisiana.
“We’re committed to making sure this brazen attack on the constitutional right to abortion access never takes effect.”