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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) on Thursday signed into law a ban on abortions after the detection of heartbeat activity in the fetus, which can occur at about six weeks of pregnancy.
The so-called "heartbeat" abortion ban, the sixth of its kind to be passed in recent months, doesn't include exceptions for rape or incest.
With Edwards' signature, Louisiana joins Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio and Missouri in enacting such bans.
But Edwards, who says he is "pro-life," is the first Democratic governor to sign a sweeping bill limiting abortion rights in the state.
“In 2015, I ran for governor as a pro-life candidate after serving as a pro-life legislator for eight years,” he said. “As governor, I have been true to my word and my beliefs on this issue.”
The "heartbeat" bans, as well as a separate, widespread abortion ban in Alabama, have been criticized on the national stage by abortion rights advocates and prominent Democrats, including many of those running for president.
Louisiana's ban won't take effect unless a similar bill in Mississippi is upheld in a federal appeals court.
NARAL Pro-Choice America political director Nicole Brener-Schmitz criticized the legislation in a statement.
"Governor John Bel Edwards turned his back on the women of Louisiana today at a time when they needed him most. As anti-choice politicians pass dangerous and unconstitutional bans on abortion before many women know they’re pregnant, people in Louisiana and across the country are watching closely," she said in a statement. "He won’t get a pass just because he is a Democrat."
A federal judge last week issued a preliminary injunction blocking Mississippi's new law from going into effect while it is being challenged in court.
Earlier this month Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed the country's strictest abortion ban, which effectively bans the procedure in nearly all cases, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The law, which could punish doctors who perform abortions with prison time, hasn't taken effect and is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Proponents of the bans are hoping the legislation will lead to a Supreme Court battle to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that granted abortion rights nationwide.
But despite President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE's appointments of two conservative justices, the court has largely side-stepped the issue. This week, the court declined to take up a challenge to an Indiana law blocking abortions on the basis of sex, race or disability, avoiding a major ruling on the issue for the time being.
--Updated Thursday, 6:29 p.m.
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