Three Wyoming officials and two pro-life organizations asked a state court’s permission Thursday to defend a state law that protects unborn babies and mothers by banning elective abortions.
In its motion, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) asked the court to be allowed to defend the pro-life law against a lawsuit from pro-abortion groups. The pro-life legal group represents state Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody, the lead sponsor of the law; state Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett; Right to Life of Wyoming and Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray.
“The state of Wyoming is eager to uphold its law affirming that life is a human right and ensure women are given the real health care and support they deserve,” said ADF senior counsel Denise Harle in a statement. “We urge the court to allow them to help defend Wyoming’s duly enacted law.”
The new Life is a Human Right Act, which passed in March, protects unborn babies and mothers by banning elective abortions. It also includes clear language that allows doctors to protect pregnant mothers in medical emergencies and provide miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy care.
The law recognizes that “all members of the human race are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, the foremost of which is the right to life.”
However, pro-abortion groups immediately sued, and Teton County District Court Judge Melissa Owens issued a temporary injunction blocking the law in late March. Pro-abortion groups claim the law violates the Wyoming Constitution by restricting a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions.
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The state attorney general’s office also is defending the law, but the pro-life leaders represented by ADF argue that Special Assistant Attorney General Jay Jerde’s representation has been “inadequate,” according to Jackson Hole Daily.
Here’s more from the report:
They cite their desire to protect women and unborn children, as well as legislators’ right to create laws and the advocacy group’s right to protect its advocacy efforts. …
“The people of Wyoming elected Secretary Gray as a statewide constitutional officer after a legislative career advocating for pro-life policies,” the motion to intervene states. “The Wyoming Secretary of State is statutorily obligated to preserve all the public records, documents, acts and resolutions of the legislatures of the … state of Wyoming.”
Wyoming also has an older trigger law that bans abortions, but a judge blocked it last year. The new law that passed in March goes further than the previous ban by protecting all unborn babies, including those conceived in rape and incest, and it states that the ban does not include abortions when the mother’s life is at risk, or miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy care.
The new law addresses the issues that have tied up the earlier trigger law in litigation.
“Instead of being health care, abortion is the intentional termination of the life of an unborn baby. It is within the authority of the state of Wyoming to determine reasonable and necessary restrictions upon abortion, including its prohibition,” the law states, pointing to language in the state constitution.
Abortion activists claim the law harms pregnant women and their doctors and violates the state constitution even though nothing in the state constitution confers a right to abortion. An amendment in the Wyoming Constitution says adults have a right to make their own health care decisions, but killing an unborn baby is not health care.
All pro-life laws allow exceptions when the mother’s life is at risk and, in some states, abortions in cases of rape and incest. These make up a very small percent of all abortions in the U.S. Research from the Charlotte Lozier Institute found about 96 percent of abortions are for purely elective reasons.
Wyoming is one of several states that are battling in court to legally protect unborn babies from abortion. Currently, 14 other states are enforcing pro-life laws that ban or strictly limit abortions, and others are advancing legislation this spring to do the same.
In June, the Supreme Court overturned Roe in a historic victory for life and returned the power to legislate abortion to the people. Because of Dobbs v. Jackson, states may protect unborn babies from abortion for the first time in nearly 50 years.
New data this week shows tens of thousands of unborn babies were saved from abortion in the first five months after the June ruling.