A Wyoming judge on Thursday temporarily halted the first state law to specifically ban the use of pills for abortion, the most common method in the country.
Just a week before the ban went into effect, Teton County District Court Judge Melissa Owens granted a temporary restraining order, blocking the law pending further court proceedings.
In ruling from the bench after a hearing that lasted nearly two hours, Judge Owens said the plaintiffs, who include four health care providers, “have clearly shown potential success on the merits and that at least some of the plaintiffs would suffer potentially irreparable injury” if the ban were to take effect.
Medication abortion is already illegal in states with almost complete bans, as these bans prohibit all forms of abortion. But Wyoming became the first state to restrict access to the pills for abortion, separate from an overall ban. The law was to take effect from July 1.
SanctionsPassed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Gordon in March, it makes it illegal to “prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell, or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion.”
Doctors or anyone else found guilty of violating this law will be charged with a misdemeanor, which can lead to up to six months in prison and a $9,000 fine. The law clearly states that pregnant women will be exempted from the fee and penalty.
Ever since the Supreme Court overturned a national right to abortion, Wyoming’s Republican-controlled Legislature has been trying to ban abortion in the state.
Last year, Judge Owens temporarily imposed a nearly total abortion ban, which he said contradicts an amendment to Wyoming’s constitution that guarantees adults the right to make their own health care decisions. An overwhelming majority of Wyoming citizens voted for that amendment in 2012.
In March, the Legislature passed and the governor signed another nearly complete ban on abortion, which sought to circumvent that constitutional amendment by declaring abortion not health care. Judge Owens temporarily blocked that legislation shortly after it was signed, saying he questioned the state’s contention that abortion is not health care.
The issue of whether abortion is health care was also a key aspect of Thursday’s hearing on the drug abortion ban. Jay Gerde, a special assistant attorney general for Wyoming, argued that even though doctors and other health providers should be involved in abortions, there are instances when “performing an abortion does not constitute health care because it spares the woman’s body pain.” Not doing well.” , physical illness or disease.
Judge Owens questioned Mr. Gerde’s argument. “Essentially under this law the government is making a decision for a woman,” she said, “instead of giving the woman her own health care choice, the overwhelming majority in Wyoming decided that’s what we should do.”
The plaintiffs in the case, who are challenging all of the bans in separate lawsuits, include only two abortion providers in Wyoming; an obstetrician-gynecologist who often treats high-risk pregnancies; an emergency room nurse; a fund that funds abortion patients; and a woman who said her Judaism requires abortion if the pregnant woman’s physical or mental health or life is in danger.
A ban on medication abortions would have a substantial impact because pills have been used in nearly all recent abortions in the state, Marcy Bramlett, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the court. Nationally, pills are now used in more than half of abortions. Only one other method, surgical abortion, is offered by Wyoming’s providers.
Ms Bramlett told the court, “The ban only seeks to ban medication abortions, not all abortions, completely undermines the state’s stated goal of preserving prenatal life, and allows surgical abortions Which are physically, financially and logistically more aggressive.” “The law tells women, ‘You can have an abortion in Wyoming but are not using a safe, effective, FDA-approved drug.'”