Judge blocks Wyoming abortion ban in court case
A judge has blocked the passage of a Wyoming law that would ban most abortions in the state, while a lawsuit challenging the legislation goes to trial.
Teton County District Judge Melissa Owens issued the injunction on Wednesday, arguing that it is not “a case about the moral propriety of Wyoming’s restrictions” but whether the law is “constitutional in under Wyoming law”. The decision comes as a previous order preventing the law from coming into effect has expired.
The state government could appeal the preliminary injunction to the Wyoming Supreme Court; otherwise, it will remain in effect until the dispute is resolved.
Dr. Giovannina Anthony, who works at the state’s only abortion clinic, argued in court that the ban was too vague about what abortions were and weren’t allowed.
“This vagueness creates uncertainty, especially in wanted but complicated pregnancies,” Anthony said as quoted by The Star Tribune.
“The legal quagmire created by the abortion ban was truly terrifying as a provider, to be sure to provide evidence-based care without breaking the law.”
Special Assistant Attorney General Jay Jerde, arguing in defense of the ban, said “the issue at the heart of this case is whether the Wyoming constitution grants the right to abortion.”
“The answer to this question is no, implicitly or explicitly. Abortion is not a fundamental right, we know that since Dobbs“, he said, referring to the United States Supreme Court case Dobbs vs. Jackson.
In March, Governor Mark Gordon signed into law House Bill 92, which was a trigger measure that would ban most abortions if the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 ruling. Roe vs. Wade.
The state’s abortion ban included exemptions for rape, incest and life-threatening medical emergencies for the mother, and was passed overwhelmingly by both houses of the state legislature. .
After the Supreme Court overturned deer through the Dobbs decision in June, Gordon certified HB 92 and said last month that the state abortion ban would soon go into effect.
“I believe that the decision to regulate abortion is rightly left to the states. As Pro-Life Governor, my focus will continue to be to ensure that we do all we can to support mothers, children and families,” he tweeted in July.
Before the ban could take effect, however, a group of plaintiffs, including an abortion provider and a pregnant woman, filed suit against the state.
In late July, Owens issued a temporary restraining order against the law the same day the ban was to go into effect.