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WY Abortion-Rights Advocates Set Sights on Next Session


Monday, November 14, 2022   

Last week's midterm elections saw conservative Republicans shore up their majorities in Wyoming's legislature, and Janna Farley - communications director with the American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming - said reproductive-rights activists will have a heavy lift reversing what many see as government overreach on women's bodily autonomy.

Abortion rights came under immediate fire in the 2022 legislative session when a trigger bill banning abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade was signed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

"The bill was passed with a large majority of legislators in both chambers in favor of it," said Farley. "Abortion is still legal in Wyoming while a lawsuit that contests the ban moves ahead."

Plaintiffs in the suit point to Article 1, Section 38 in Wyoming's constitution - which says "Each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own health-care decisions."

Defenders of the trigger ban argue that article was created in response to the Affordable Care Act, and that the state's constitution does not include the word abortion.

While many believe that ending a pregnancy is an unnecessary loss of life, Farley noted that in many instances, access to abortion is critical to save the life of the pregnant person.

"The reasons for people having an abortion is something best left to a person and their health-care team, their doctors, their physicians," said Farley. "Politicians should not be in the exam room with you, making those decisions for you."

If the court rules in favor of reproductive-rights groups on the trigger ban law, Farley said the Legislature still wants to limit abortion access, and expects a new law would be introduced in the next session.

She said after the Supreme Court turned abortion rights over to states, protecting access will mean challenging the new status quo.

"If we want to change the political landscape in Wyoming, we're going to need people to get involved," said Farley. "If abortion access is going to be left to the political process like this, those of us who care about reproductive rights have to get engaged."

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