- Associated Press - Thursday, October 8, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Abortion rights supporters who want to make the procedure easier to obtain in Louisiana can count on getting zero support from the state’s next governor.

All four major contenders in the Louisiana governor’s race oppose abortion, a popular stance in a state considered one of the most anti-abortion in the nation.

The three major Republican candidates - Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and U.S. Sen. David Vitter - describe their opposition to abortion as they campaign. Vitter repeatedly references endorsements from several anti-abortion groups. Angelle calls himself “100 percent pro-life.”

And the main Democrat vying for the governor’s job - state Rep. John Bel Edwards - is running an ad highlighting his anti-abortion views.

In the 30-second TV spot, Edwards’ wife Donna describes being 20-weeks pregnant when a doctor discovered their child had spina bifida and encouraged her to have an abortion.



“I was devastated,” Donna Edwards says. “But John Bel never flinched. He just said, ‘No. No, we’re going to love this baby no matter what.’”

The commercial shows their grown-up daughter with her fiancee as Donna Edwards says, “Samantha’s getting married next spring and she’s living proof that John Bel Edwards lives his values every day.”

Edwards said the ad was his daughter’s idea “to make sure people understood where we are on that issue as it relates to our Catholic Christian faith, being pro-life.” It also draws distinctions from the national Democratic Party, as Edwards positions himself as the kind of moderate Democrat that Louisiana used to regularly elect to statewide office.

Louisiana has enacted a series of abortion restrictions over the years. Proposals to add new limits don’t divide Republicans and Democrats and regularly get overwhelming, bipartisan support in the conservative state.

Though each major candidate for governor opposes abortion, the issue still raises disputes in the race.

Vitter criticized both Dardenne and Edwards in a recent debate, saying Edwards’ votes for President Barack Obama undercut his claim of being anti-abortion and saying Dardenne has voted “six times for abortion and against life.” Vitter’s campaign has hit Dardenne on the subject several times.

In response, Dardenne said he didn’t vote to support abortion rights, but was scored poorly by Louisiana Right to Life because of votes as a state senator on several bills involving cloning and stem cell research. He said concerns were raised that the bills, which sought to ban human cloning, were too sweeping and could harm medical research.

“I think it’s a little misleading, not on the part of the scorers, but on Vitter’s part, to not characterize me as pro-life,” Dardenne said.

The candidates do differ on the exceptions they’re willing to consider in their opposition to the procedure.

All four men say they don’t object to an abortion when a mother’s life is in jeopardy. Angelle and Vitter don’t support exceptions for rape or incest victims; Dardenne does. Edwards said he’d consider such exceptions if they were the “legislative will.”

Another difference of opinion involves term-limited Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to block Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, which doesn’t provide abortions in Louisiana.

All three Republicans say they support Jindal’s decision.

Edwards said there should be more investigation of claims that the organization was illegally profiting from fetal tissue sales, which Planned Parenthood denies. He also said Louisiana must make sure other health care locations are available to provide services before blocking Planned Parenthood from Medicaid.

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