Judge to consider reopening abortions in Wyoming

Cheyenne, Wyo. – A judge will hear arguments Wednesday over whether abortions are legal in Wyoming as a sweeping new ban is challenged in court.

The ban went into effect on Sunday, make abortion illegal in Wyoming despite earlier rulings by Teton County District Court Judge Melissa Owens, who blocked the ban hours after it took effect last summer.

Owens will now consider whether to block the new injunction while the lawsuit continues.

However, she is not expected to immediately comment on Wyoming’s other new abortion law: the country’s first ban on abortion pills. Abortion rights supporters too in an effort to stop this law, was signed by Republican Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday, but it won’t take effect until July 1.

So far, Owens has had some sympathy for two nonprofits, two doctors and two other women who have sued to block broader abortion bans in Wyoming.

In July, Owens found that their fears that the law would harm women and doctors and violate the state constitution may have merit. State lawmakers then wrote their own new law to try to overturn those objections.

In her July decision, Owens found that a 2012 amendment to the state constitution guaranteeing the right to make one’s own health care decisions could allow abortions.

The new comprehensive ban states that abortion is not a medical care and therefore the amendment does not cover abortions.

Gordon expressed reservations about the new ban, though he allowed it to go into effect without his signature. He said voters should decide the constitutionality of abortion in Wyoming instead of the Legislature dealing with abortion issues piecemeal, year after year.

Wyoming has only one abortion provider, a women’s clinic in Jackson that provides only medical abortions, but was forced to shut down after a statewide ban went into effect this week.

Wellspring Health Access planned to open a clinic in Casper that would provide surgical and medical abortions. After an arson attack prevented the clinic from opening as planned last summer, organizers had hoped to open it next month.

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