Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards defied fellow Democrats on Thursday by signing six-week abortion ban into law.
The signature puts Edwards further out of step with the Democratic Party, whose platform is to allow the government to pay for abortions. Lawmakers in blue states also are pushing for looser restrictions on abortion and to codify abortion rights.
But Edwards is a Catholic who is running for reelection this year in a deeply conservative and religious state and who has signed limits on abortion into law before.
"I know there are many who feel just as strongly as I do on abortion and disagree with me — and I respect their opinions," Edwards said Wednesday. "As I prepare to sign this bill, I call on the overwhelming bipartisan majority of legislators who voted on it to join me in continuing to build a better Louisiana."
Democrats and abortion rights organizations have blasted the law but avoided criticizing Edwards directly. The bill was also introduced by a Democrat, Sen. John Milkovich.
Louisiana's ban does not make exceptions for rape or incest, and is part of a larger strategy by the anti-abortion movement to have the Supreme Court reconsider Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide until fetal viability, which is understood to be at about 24 weeks into a pregnancy.
Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio passed six-week bans this year, and Alabama passed a law banning abortion at any time in a pregnancy.
In Louisiana, the ban would only be triggered if the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a similar ban in Mississippi. A federal judge already temporarily blocked Mississippi's ban last week.
Six-week bans have been challenged or struck down wherever they have passed because they violate Roe, and abortion is still legal everywhere in the U.S., though limited in certain states. Proponents of the bans call them "heartbeat bills" because they block abortions when a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat.
Doctors who provide abortions in Louisiana would face up to two weeks in prison and lose their medical license. The law has an exception to prevent a pregnant woman's death or "a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function" and in cases where a doctor determines a pregnancy will be "medically futile."
[Opinoin: Roe v. Wade is not 'gone,' but for the first time in nearly 30 years, its survival is uncertain]