Gov. John Bel Edwards on life

Edwards hopes lawmakers end the death penalty in Louisiana and create an exemption in the state’s near-total abortion ban for cases of rape or incest.
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 10:08 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - For the first time since he’s been in office, Governor John Bel Edwards (D) is speaking out against the death penalty in Louisiana.

“It’s very final, not because it’s perfect, but because it ends in someone’s death, and we know that there are far more exonerations off of our death row over the last 20 years, than actual executions, which has been one,” Edwards explained.

While in Monroe on March 28, Edwards told KNOE he wants to see Louisiana do away with the death penalty and would support legislation to do that.

“I also think it’s very consistent with being a pro-life state,” said Edwards. “It seems to me to be inconsistent to say, on the one hand, we are going to be the most pro-life states in the nation of can be, yet we are going to maintain our traditional approach to the death penalty.”

Louisina’s largest pro-life group, Right to Life, declined to say if they agree with Edwards.

“We do not take a position on the death penalty,” Sarah Zagorski, Right to Life’s Communications Director, told KNOE.

On abortion, Edwards says despite signing a bill in 2022 banning nearly all abortions in the state, he would like the legislature to make an exception for victims of rape or incest.

“To simply ask the question, should a 13-year-old have to carry her stepdad’s baby to term even when her mother and physician believe that that is not in her best interest? That is a human life, too,” Edwards explained.

Right to Life disagrees with the governor on exceptions and says they want the legislature to prioritize services to help mothers.

“We, of course, the perpetrator of that crime, the rapist, should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, but that baby, that life is still valuable and worthy of our protection, and we are going to continue to fight for that,” Zagorski explained.

Edwards adds the cost of keeping someone on death row far exceeds the punishment of life in prison, adding to the reasons he wants to see it outlawed.