By Gabriella Borter
(Reuters) – Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who opposes abortion, has signed legislation that would impose harsher criminal penalties on abortion providers if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
The new measure hardens Louisiana’s so-called trigger law, which would ban abortion in the state entirely should the nation’s top court in coming weeks reverse the 1973 decision that legalized the procedure nationwide.
The legislation increases the criminal penalties for abortion providers to one to 10 years in prison and $10,000 to $100,000 in fines from the previous one to five years in prison and $5,000 to $10,000 in fines.
The law does not penalize pregnant women and makes exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest cases.
Edwards said he signed the bill despite believing it should include exceptions for rape and incest.
“My position on abortion has been unwavering. I am pro-life and have never hidden from that fact,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
Anti-abortion legislators have been rapidly enacting restrictive laws in conservative states this year, encouraged by the likelihood that the Supreme Court could roll back abortion rights and permit states to ban abortion entirely.
A draft majority opinion leaked to the public in early May showed the conservative-leaning court intending to overturn the Roe decision.
Louisiana is one of 13 states with a trigger law on the books. Should it take effect, the average driving distance for pregnant patients in Louisiana to get an abortion would increase by more than https://states.guttmacher.org/#louisiana600 miles (966 km), according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research group.
The Biden administration criticized Louisiana’s new legislation when it passed earlier this month, calling it “the latest step in a growing attack against the fundamental freedoms of Americans.”
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Bill Berkrot)