When announcing the bill, Edwards said he signed it although he objected the lack of exceptions. ”I am pro-life and have never hidden from that fact," Edwards, a Democrat who opposes abortion rights, said in a statement. "This does not belie my belief that there should be an exception to the prohibition on abortion for victims of rape and incest."
He added that vetoing the bill would "not accomplish that end" and would leave in place even more restrictions than those outlined in the new legislation.
The new law expands on a previous trigger law that was adopted in Louisiana in 2006. It clarifies its only exception of “medical futility,” which means abortions are permissible only if doctors believe the fetus won’t survive after birth, or if it's an ectopic pregnancy. The updated trigger law not only clarifies this exception, but also increases penalties for providers who perform abortions.
Providers will now not only be required to have two physicians determine if a pregnancy is medically futile but face one to 10 years in prison and fines of $10,000 to $100,000 should they go ahead with an abortion outside of this exception, Reuters reported. Additionally, under the new law a physician who performs an abortion later in pregnancy, at 15 weeks or more, is subject to up to 15 years in prison and fined up to $200,000.
"It's essentially our trigger law," said Sarah Zagorski with Louisiana Right to Life, according to CBS News affiliate WWL TV. "It's an exciting time for us as we're waiting for hopefully the reversal of Roe in the coming days.”
According to WWL TV, there are currently only three abortion clinics in Louisiana, located in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport. If Roe v. Wade is overturned and the trigger law goes into effect, the clinics would shut down immediately.
While the law permits the use of emergency contraception, it follows a bill Edwards signed last week that bans the sale or distribution of drugs used in a medication abortion without a prescription.
That bill also creates criminal penalties for those who have or take drugs related to abortion, and blocks drugs used in medication abortions from being delivered to Louisianians via mail, CNN reported. Upon its passing, the Biden administration called this legislation “the latest step in a growing attack against the fundamental freedoms of Americans.”
Louisiana is one of 13 states with such a trigger law in place. According to the Guttmacher Institute should the law take effect, the average one-way driving distance for pregnant patients in Louisiana to get an abortion would increase from 37 to 666 miles.
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