Turmoil In Wyoming As Judge Blocks Abortion Ban

Abortion supporters filed a challenge Tuesday to Wyoming’s ban on abortion pills, seeking to prevent the will of the state from taking effect July 1st. Also already challenged was the separate and sweeping abortion ban that began on Sunday.

It went into effect without the governor’s signature.

However, a judge on Wednesday made abortion legal again in Wyoming, at least temporarily. Teton County District Court Judge Melissa Owens ordered a halt to the ban in a continuation of earlier rulings by her that blocked a previous ban last summer.

Owens suspended the ban for at least two weeks after a Wednesday hearing in which abortion advocates claimed the law hurt pregnant women. They also told the judge that it violated the state constitution.

The Wyoming ban bars all abortions except for rare exceptions. State Republicans worked around a constitutional amendment saying adults may make their own health care decisions by placing the provision in the ban that abortion is not health care.

Republican Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday signed another abortion law being challenged in Owens’ court that banned abortion pills. The first-in-the-nation measure was not addressed by Owens when she ruled on the overarching abortion law.

The state only has one abortion clinic, and the Jackson facility only provides medically-induced abortions. That practice was also shut down when the new law went into effect Sunday.

Special Assistant Attorney General Jay Jerde told Owens that the state legislature is permitted to “interpret the Constitution, and that interpretation is entitled to significant deference from the court.”

The state would have become the first in the nation to ban abortion pills if the law were allowed to go into effect in July.

According to the New York Times, the plaintiffs will present their case against “the medication abortion ban and the overall ban.” They will ask a judge for an injunction to suspend the laws until their overall lawsuit can be heard in court.

Judicial activism is alive and well in Wyoming. The clear intent of the Supreme Court last year was to allow states to decide the abortion issue for themselves. But once again, supporters are attempting to circumvent the high court through friendly judges at lower levels.