Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards just signed a bill that would ban abortions in the state as early as the sixth week into a pregnancy. The passage comes just weeks after similar bills were passed in Georgia and Alabama.
Since Edwards is a Democrat, his support for the bill may come as a surprise to those who do not know his position and history with abortion, as he broke with party lines to sign what is commonly referred to as a “heartbeat bill.”
“In 2015, I ran for governor as a pro-life candidate after serving as a pro-life legislator for eight years. As governor, I have been true to my word and my beliefs on this issue,” Edwards said in a statement.
Part of Edwards’ pro-life stance on his personal life and his legislative life stems from his relationship with his daughter and his wife, Donna Edwards.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Donna and John’s Daughter had Spina Bifida & Abortion Was Recommended
- Donna and John’s daughter, Samantha Edwards was diagnosed with spina bifida when Donna was 20 weeks pregnant.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, spina bifida “is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.” It can inhibit walking and mobility as well as develop into life-threatening meningitis.
Although abortion was recommended, they decided to hang on and continue with the pregnancy.
Samantha is now alive, healthy, working and married.
2. Governor Edwards and Donna’s Choice to Continue With Their Pregnancy was a Cornerstone Message of His Campaign for Governor
Governor Edwards’ pro-life views are well documented and continue to be supported by him and his wife’s decision to continue her pregnancy even after Samantha was diagnosed with spina bifida.
“I was 20-weeks pregnant with our first child when the doctors discovered she had spina bifida, and encouraged me to have an abortion,” Donna Edwards said in her husband’s campaign ad for governor. “I was devastated, but John Bel never flinched, he just said, ‘No, no we’re gonna love this baby no matter what.'”
“Samantha is getting married next spring and she’s living proof that John Bel Edwards lives his values every day,” Donna said at the end of the ad.
Edwards’ pro-life stance in his personal life as well as in his legislative life was a key component to winning the governorship in such a deeply red state like Lousiana.
3. Donna Edwards is a Woman of the South
Edwards was born in Mississippi but she has lived in Alabama as well as Lousiana.
“I was born in Mississippi. My dad worked for International Paper Company as a forester. We moved to Alabama, and from there to Amite, Louisiana,” Edwards said in an interview with Thrive Magazine.
Edwards says she had a strong household and credits her mother and father and their ability to raise such a healthy family.
“My mom stayed home with me and my two older brothers. She was one of the best homemakers. I grew up in a very strong household with strong faith, involved with our church, my dad was in Kiwanis,” Edwards said. “We did a lot of things together. I remember Sunday afternoons walking through the woods, picnics, and going to the park.”
4. Donna and John Bel Met in 6th Grade
Donna and governor Edwards met in 6th grade when her family moved to Louisiana. According to her interview with Thrive Magazine, they started dating in high school.
After they both graduated college, they moved to Hawaii because Governor Edwards was stationed there after he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
“We lived there until our first child, Samantha Bel, was born. After 3 ½ years, we moved back to the mainland and moved around a couple different places. Our last tour of duty was at Fort Bragg, N.C., where our second child Sarah Ellen was born,” Edwards said in the interview. “We were eight years in the army, active duty. Then we moved back to Amite, where John Bel went to LSU law school. We had our third child, John Miller, right after 9/11.”
The two have been together for over 35 years.
5. Donna Edwards Graduated from Southern Mississippi University
While Governor Edwards was studying at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Donna attended Southern Mississippi University.
According to Thrive Magazine, Donna graduated with a degree in Industrial Management. Donna and John Bel got married after John Bel graduated from Ranger School.
After their first daughter was born Donna decided to not go back to work so she could focus on Samantha and her spina bifida.
“After she was born, I decided not to go back to work, stay at home, be a part of her everyday life, and make sure she had whatever she needed physically, mentally, and spiritually to be successful,” Edwards said.
Donna and John Bel have two other kids outside of Samantha, Sarah Ellen and John Miller.