2020 Dems Slam Louisiana's Governor Over Heartbeat Abortion Law

May 31, 2019

The Democratic Party's leading presidential contenders are criticizing one of the party's lone pro-life elected officials, Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards, for signing a heartbeat abortion bill into law.

Edwards on Thursday signed legislation that prohibits abortions from being preformed in Louisiana after a fetal heartbeat is detected—usually the six-week mark. The bill, which was authored by a Democratic state senator and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, is similar to recently enacted laws in Georgia, Ohio, and Missouri.

Despite polling showing 57 percent of Louisiana voters say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, Edwards has drawn widespread condemnation from pro-choice advocates for his decision. Some of the most vociferous attacks have come from those seeking to lead the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential ticket.

Even before Louisiana legislators passed the final bill, former congressman Beto O'Rourke (D., Texas) signaled any new restrictions on abortion, from either Democrats or Republicans, would be unacceptable.

"We will fight radical, unconstitutional attacks on women in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri — in every state and every part of this country," O'Rourke wrote on social media Wednesday. "No governor — Republican or Democrat — should sign legislation that would take away a woman's right to access an abortion."

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders joined the fray on Thursday shortly after Edwards said he would sign the bill into law. Sanders, who in the past has supported primary challenges to pro-life Democrats in Congress, called the legisaltion "draconian" and an "outrage."

"The Democratic governor of Louisiana is signing draconian anti-abortion legislation today," Sanders said. "This is an outrage. Regardless of party, we must vigorously defend a woman's constitutional right to control her own body."

California senator Kamala Harris was no less outraged by Edwards's decision, suggesting the governor was not respecting the "agency" and "value" of women.

"Dangerous attacks on women’s constitutional right to an abortion are outrageous no matter what party you’re in," Harris wrote. "My message to the Gov. of Louisiana: women have agency, women have value, women have authority to make decisions about their own lives—and we will not go backward."

New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is still struggling to overcome the backlash from what many liberals view as her unfair treatment of former senator Al Franken, was the first to attack Edwards personally over the law.

"Regardless of your personal beliefs, no politician—Republican or Democrat—has the right to control women's bodies or involve themselves in women's health care decisions," Gillibrand said. "Governor John Bel Edwards is turning his back on Louisiana women by signing this shameful bill."

Gillibrand, like Sanders, has also endorsed getting "involved in" Democratic primaries to ensure candidates "emerge to run in places where members of Congress are not pro-choice and don’t support the values that I support."

Former secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro touched on that notion when commenting on Louisiana's new heartbeat law, saying abortion should be a litmus test for Democrats.

"I'll say it again: In this political climate, I will only support Democrats for office who will defend a woman's constitutional right to an abortion," Castro said.

Even former gubernatorial colleagues now running for president jumped in to criticize Edwards, albeit in much less harsh terms.

"I don't agree with @LouisianaGov John Bel Edwards's decision," former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said. "In CO, we empowered women to make their own decisions with affordable birth control. The results speak for themselves - teen abortions down 64%, teen pregnancy down 54%. As President, I'd take that program nationwide."

Edwards is no stranger to such attacks. As previously reported by the Washington Free Beacon, the governor received widespread condemnation from abortion advocates last year for signing legislation that prohibited the practice after 15 weeks.