Wyoming’s comprehensive pro-life law headed to state Supreme Court

By Dave Andrusko

In a story we posted on August 10, Judge Melissa Owens issued a temporary injunction that blocked enforcement of Wyoming’s House Bill 92 banning most abortions in the state. Passed in 2022, HB 92 states “that an abortion ‘shall not be performed, except when necessary to preserve the woman from a serious risk of death or of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily,’” according to  Carrie Haderlie writing for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

Two abortionists and pro-abortion groups challenged pro-life legislation as unconstitutional.

After Wednesday, the case is now headed to the Wyoming Supreme Court. Judge Owens certified questions of law to the state’s highest court and also “denied a request from three intervenors seeking to join the case and defend Wyoming’s abortion ban,” Kate Ready reported for the Jackson Hole Daily.

According to Ready,

In her order, Owens listed questions to be sent to the state Supreme Court. They include whether House Bill 92 is unconstitutionally vague, and whether it violates other sections of the state constitution, such as Wyomingites’ right to privacy, as well as residents’ rights to equality, to make their own health care decisions and to private property.

In her five-page certification order, Judge Owens wrote, “This court does not find any Wyoming Supreme Court precedent addressing the questions of law to be answered.”

The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office is defending the law but Reps. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, Chip Neiman, and a pro-life group asked to intervene.  The legislators sponsored HB 92 which “triggered” a ban on most abortions when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Judge Owens denied their participation  because (among other reasons) she ruled it would “unduly delay the adjudication of the rights of the parties.”

“The intervenors provided three reasons why they should be allowed to intervene in their request filed Aug. 16,” Ready reported, “That the legislators have a protectable interest in enacting legislation that regulates the medical profession, that the legislators were themselves involved in sponsoring the bill, and finally, that the legislators personally support human life and the enactment of the piece of legislation.”

Judge Owens heard arguments from the proposed intervenors during a November 21 hearing, Ready wrote, and

In her ruling Wednesday, Owens weighed whether the interests of the three abortion opponents rose to the level of a “significantly protectable interest.”

She found that they did not.

Dave Cortman, senior counsel with ADF — which is  representing the proposed intervenors — said of Judge Owens’ ruling

“The people of Wyoming, through their elected representatives, have made clear that they want to protect life. Wyoming deserves the long-awaited opportunity to affirm that life is a human right. We are hopeful that the state will prevail so it can protect the most vulnerable among us and ensure that women and families facing unplanned pregnancies have real support.”

The Wyoming Supreme Court has 30 days to decide whether it will accept the case.