The Louisiana House of Representatives have voted to prohibit abortion after detection of an embryonic heartbeat, which can occur as early as six weeks from conception, often before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.
Louisiana is the latest of several states where Republican-majority legislatures have enacted strict abortion measures this year in direct challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.
The 79-23 vote by the Republican-controlled House sends the bill to the state’s Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, who has indicated that he would sign it.
A federal judge, had initially, blocked an almost identical six-week “heartbeat bill” enacted in Mississippi, ruling it violates the fundamental right to privacy protecting a woman’s right to an abortion as established by Roe v. Wade under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.
The Louisiana measure and similar bills passed in states including Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky, were aimed in part to provoke court challenges that might lead the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade.
“I just want to say I’m proud to stand with this legislature and the state of Louisiana because we are very pro-life. Each one in this room believes in the intrinsic value of human life. It’s one of the greatest instincts that we have is the instinct for survival. And in Louisiana we have a culture of a love of life, a love of family, and love of God. Nothing is more precious to any of us than the heartbeat. Our heartbeat is the most important organ that we have. And the heartbeat is the biggest indication of life that there is. When a person’s heart stops beating, you know their life has ended. And when you can hear a baby’s heartbeat, that is proof that life is present,” Republican Louisiana state Representative Valarie Hodges said.
The renewed push to overturn or roll back that 1973 decision comes after abortion foes were emboldened by President Donald Trump’s appointment of two new Supreme Court justices, giving conservatives a solid majority on the U.S. high court.