Asked about “heartbeat” legislation making its way to his desk imminently, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards – a Democrat – suggested he would be inclined to sign it into law. Even flirting with the possibility of signing a bill that would restrict access to abortion puts Edwards on the extreme fringes of the Democratic Party, which has pushed for nearly-unrestricted abortion all the way to the third trimester and beyond. Instead, it puts his state in line with Georgia, Ohio, and Alabama – Republican-controlled states that have recently put strong pro-life laws into effect.
“When I ran for governor,” Edwards said, “I was pro-life. And so that’s something that’s consistent. My position hasn’t changed. In eight years in the Legislature, I was a pro-life legislator.”
Fox News points out that Edwards, in addition to taking a bold stance against the tide of his party, doesn’t just talk the talk. When doctors advised he and his wife to abort their child thirty years ago due to detections of spina bifida, they ignored the counsel and went through with the pregnancy.
“I know that for many in the national party, that’s not a good fit,” Edwards said of his pro-life stance. “But I will tell you, here in Louisiana, I speak and meet with Democrats who are pro-life every single day.”
In addition to pushing us one step closer to the day when the Supreme Court will have to once again address the abortion issue in a fundamental way, the situation in Louisiana reminds us of a point that often goes overlooked. It’s often assumed that Democratic voters are just as extreme on abortion as the lunatics who run Planned Parenthood or the ones sitting on Capitol Hill. But that just isn’t the case. The truth is that there are a great many Democrats who would prefer to see abortion restricted to the old “safe, legal, and rare” position taken by Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
According to a Marist poll from earlier this year, 60 percent of registered Democrats are in favor of restricting abortion to the first trimester, making exceptions only for cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. That means that states like Virginia and New York, where Democrats are pushing to eliminate any restrictions on abortion whatsoever, are way off the reservation in terms of mainstream support.
It’s hard to believe, but the 2020 election could very well turn out to hinge on the abortion debate – a debate that has been a secondary political issue for many years. Both parties are throwing down the gauntlet. And while the ultimate decision on the constitutionality of these laws may be decided by the Supreme Court, voters will certainly go to the polls next November with this issue in their minds. We could be wrong, but we think that favors Republicans.