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Wyoming Ban on Abortion Blocked by Judge Day After Law Takes Effect

‘It’s not clear whether abortion is health care,’ said District Court Judge Melissa Owens

A judge temporarily blocked a new prohibition on abortion from being implemented just days after it went into effect.

The ban makes abortion illegal at all stages of pregnancy unless the pregnancy was conceived through rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.

Teton County District Court Judge Melissa Owens paused the law from being enforced during a hearing on March 22. Under her order, the abortion ban is suspended for at least two weeks.

“The state can not legislate away a constitutional right,” said Owens, per AP News. “It’s not clear whether abortion is health care. The court has to then decide that.”

Pro-abortion advocates who oppose the law argued in this week’s healing that the policy violates the state’s constitution and harms both pregnant women and their doctors. 

The Wyoming Consitution protects adults’ right to make their own decision regarding their health care. The abortion ban states that abortions are not a form of health care. 

The bill, the Life is a Human Right Act, was enacted on March 20 and was met with celebration by anti-abortion advocates.

“Every human life is valuable, and every baby deserves to be protected. We are glad that Wyoming continues to eagerly protect life and enact laws that seek to preserve the lives of children and protect the wellbeing of their mothers,” said Denise Burke, Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, in a press release. 

“All states—including Wyoming—have valid interests in preserving unborn life, as well as a duty to protect the health and safety of women,” continued Burke. “Women deserve real health care, and unborn babies deserve a chance to live. We commend Wyoming for taking the opportunity to affirm that life is a human right.”

“Through passing my bill, this state has affirmed that life is a human right and that women and families facing unplanned pregnancies deserve real support,” said state Representative Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, per Cody Enterprise. “The people of Wyoming have made it clear, through those they’ve elected, that they want to protect life, and I believe this law does that. It supports women, respects the integrity of the medical profession and will save lives.”

Owens blocked a proposed abortion ban in July of 2022 following a lawsuit brought by Wellspring Health Access and the Chelsea’s Fund, a pro-abortion nonprofit.

Owens granted a temporary injunction to the law, which had been signed into law by Governor Mark Gordon in March of 2022, after a 15-minute deliberation.

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