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Louisiana Lawmakers Approve Strict Abortion Limit, Dem. Governor Says He Will Sign it

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Photo by Melinda Deslatte AP

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he's ready to sign legislation that would ban abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy when the bill reaches his desk.

The Louisiana House approved a strict new abortion law barring the procedure once a heartbeat is detectable, a point before many women may realize they are pregnant.

By a vote of 79-23, the lawmakers banned abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement that he "ran for governor as a pro-life candidate," and intended to sign the abortion ban.

"As I prepare to sign this bill, I call on the overwhelming bipartisan majority of legislators who voted for it to join me in continuing to build a better Louisiana that cares for the least among us and provides more opportunity for everyone," he said.

More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers approved the bill, along with all of the Republicans.

The Louisiana legislation does not include an exception for a pregnancy due to rape or incest. It does allow abortions to prevent a woman's death or if the pregnancy presents "a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function." It also allows an abortion if the pregnancy is "medically futile."

Six other states — Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri and Alabama — have recently passed laws banning abortion. The Missouri law bars abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy. Alabama's law is considered the toughest in the nation, carrying a penalty of up to 99 years for doctors who would defy the ban.

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