Wyoming’s Supreme Court formally receives challenge to state’s very comprehensive pro-life law

By Dave Andrusko

Having formally received the case last Friday, the Wyoming Supreme Court now has until January 9, 2023, to decide whether they’ll consider the challenge to the state’s pro-life laws allowing abortion only in cases of rape, incest, or physical risk to the mother’s life.

“The plaintiffs include two women of childbearing age, two obstetric physicians and two abortion access nonprofits,” reporter Kate Ready wrote.

In August, Judge Melissa Owens issued a temporary injunction that blocked enforcement of Wyoming’s House HB 92, passed in 2022. According to Ready, in her five-page certification 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.

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.

“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.”

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

In an updated story, Ready reported

If the Supreme Court declines, the case will be closed and no request for reconsideration will be allowed, the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure state.

The rules also state that the Wyoming Supreme Court is not obligated to answer every one of the questions certified, and that the court has the authority to “alter” the questions to be answered.