Abortion bans, postpartum support represent ‘pro-life policy agenda’ in Wyoming, governor says

    Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon highlighted several new laws this month that he said represent the state’s “pro-life policy agenda.”

    Chemical abortion ban

    The first was Senate File 109, which makes it illegal to “prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion on any person.”

    The bill’s main sponsor was Wyoming Sen. Tim Salazar, R-Riverton, with co-sponsors including Wyoming Reps. Pepper Ottman, R-Riverton, and Sarah Penn, R-Lander.


    Penn testified in favor of the legislation during a House Revenue Committee meeting last month, sharing some information about the drugs commonly used in chemical abortions.

    “Wyoming needs the protections … this bill offers,” Penn told the committee. “These (drugs) are taking the lives of our unborn Wyoming citizens.”

    All of Fremont County’s representatives voted in favor of SF 109 on third reading in the Wyoming House.

    Life is a Human Right

    The next “pro-life” law Gordon mentioned was House Bill 152, the Life is a Human Right Act, which prohibits abortion in Wyoming.


    Co-sponsors on the bill included Salazar, Ottman, Penn and Wyoming Rep. John Winter, R-Thermopolis, whose district includes a portion of Fremont County.

    Gordon let HB 152 become law without his signature this month, expressing “concern” that it would “only result in a new lawsuit” and delay the resolution of the current court case over the abortion ban Wyoming passed last year.

    He noted that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit over last year’s ban had already filed a legal challenge to HB 152.


    Then, days after it became law, Wyoming’s new abortion ban was also temporarily blocked in court.

    “If the Legislature wants finality, it should put a constitutional amendment before the people and let them decide if they want to add an abortion ban to the state’s constitution,” Gordon said. 

    Lander attorney Christine Lichtenfels, who spoke against HB 152 in front of the Senate Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee last month, agreed with Gordon that the bill “invites litigation” by violating several federal laws.


    She also said it runs “counter to Wyoming’s foundational values” of personal responsibility and freedom from government intervention.

    The argument against HB 152 from Wyoming Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, was that it “doesn’t do anything” different from the ban the legislature passed last year.

    “This bill is entirely unnecessary,” Case said. “It’s just making a lot of people feel good – feel that they’re in the fight. And I get it. (But) I’ve got a lot of people at home that feel the other way.”

    Case suggested that the “increasingly dominant” Republican Party, which is “governed by fewer and fewer people without allowing for expression from other members of that party, has brought us to this point.”

    “This is out of sync … with the populace of Wyoming,” he said. “This bill is bad policy, it’s poorly written, it’s got the wrong motivation, and it’s the State of Wyoming exercising absolute power. That’s something we can’t do.”

    Salazar offered comments on HB 152 as well, responding to other legislators who had brought up the topic of religion as it relates to abortion.

    In response to their statements, Salazar pointed out that he has never “advertised” his religious faith during the abortion debate in Wyoming, because “I don’t think it’s anyone’s business.”

    “To those of you that come about this issue from your religious faith, that’s fine,” he said. “But there is also a secular community in this country (that) can still be in favor of this type of legislation. … So the issue that this is a forced issue by those of the religious community to impose on another community I don’t think is correct. I don’t think you have to be part of the faith community to support legislation like this.”

    Wyoming Sen. Ed Cooper, R-Ten Sleep, whose district includes part of Fremont County, voted in favor of HB 152 on third reading in the Senate, but during debate on the bill he pointed to several portions of the legislation that were “bothering” him – including questions of constitutionality and ethics, impacts to the ongoing court case over last year’s abortion ban, and the fact that his constituents are “split” on the issue.

    Postpartum care

    The other new laws Gordon labeled “pro-life” this year focus on care for newborns and their parents.

    The first, House Bill 4, extends postpartum Medicaid coverage in Wyoming to 12 months a move that Gordon called an “incredible achievement.”

    “Thirty percent of our newborns (are) born into Medicaid coverage,” he said. “(HB 4) is expected to help between 1,000 and 2,000 low-income Wyoming mothers.”

    During the debate over HB 4 on the Senate Floor, Cooper said he planned to support the bill for two reasons: First, he said, “the overwhelming input I’ve got from my constituents has been … in favor of this,” and second, “I’m very pro-life, (and) if you claim to be pro-life … you have no option other than to support this bill.”

    The final “pro-life” law Gordon mentioned this month was Senate File 79, which requires health care providers to develop “plans of safe care” for infants experiencing substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms due to prenatal drug or alcohol exposure.

    Those plans of safe care must be developed “with a priority of keeping the infant in the home, as the safety and wellbeing of the infant allows,” according to the legislation.

    “I believe in family, and in the rights of parents,” Gordon said, touting his “strong record of protecting the lives of the unborn, as well as their mothers.” “I believe all life is sacred and that every individual, including the unborn, should be treated with dignity and compassion.”


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