WYOMING — The Wyoming Legislature passed two bills, March 1, aimed at strengthening abortion prohibition in the state.
The House passed SF109, prohibiting chemical abortions, and the Senate passed HB152, Life is a Human Right Act.
SF109 bans medication-induced abortions and outlines criminal penalties for physicians or anyone who “manufactures, distributes, prescribes, dispenses, sells, transfers or uses any chemical abortion drug in the state for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion.”
If the bill becomes law, violators will be charged with a misdemeanor, which carries up to six months in jail and a fine not to exceed $9,000, or both.
Similar bills have been brought forward in the past. During the 2020 and 2021 sessions, SF83 and SF133 were proposed. both passed the Senate but were never heard in the House.
Following the senate vote on SF133, Senator Bill Landen (R-Natrona) spoke on the floor about their decision to vote against the bill
“Unfortunately every week or two in my home town in the emergency room, there are arrivals at that door of women of all ages who have been the victims of crimes, rape and other forms of violence…and one of the things that are commonplace with each of those victims is to request the ability to make sure they are not pregnant from the violent act,” said Landen. “The bill that we just passed wipes out the ability for families to have that conversation with their doctor, I can’t imagine that we would want to saddle a woman with that sort of tragedy for the rest of their lives but that’s what this bill does.”
The Life is a Human Right Act, HB152, would further restrict abortions in Wyoming and will replace last year’s abortion law if it is found unconstitutional. The bill would restrict abortions in cases of rape or incest and harsher punishments would be given to providers who perform abortions.
Wyoming’s current law banning abortions except in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in jeopardy, has been halted due to an ongoing legal battle that originated with a temporary injunction in Teton County and was eventually sent to the Wyoming Supreme Court, which declined to weigh in. A trial date is set for the case for Dec. 12, in the 9th District Court in Teton County.
According to a University of Wyoming survey conducted in October 2022, opinions on abortion amongst Wyomingites has changed little in the past 20 years.
The study found that 36 precent of respondents view abortion as a matter of personal choice, and 36 percent accept abortion in cases of rape, incest or threat to the life of the woman. Nineteen percent of respondents favor abortion if other reasons are clearly established, while seven percent prefer abortion be banned altogether. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
The bills are now being sent back to the Senate and House, respectively, for concurrence. Each needs a signature from the speaker of the House and the president of the Senate before being sent to Governor Gordon’s desk. The Governor can either sign the bills into law, veto or do nothing, which would result in the bill becoming law without his signature.