Wyoming judge temporarily blocks state ban on abortion pills

A Wyoming judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the first state law specifically banning the use of pills for abortion, the most common method in the country.

A little over a week before the ban was scheduled to take effect, Judge Melissa Owens of the Teton County District Court issued an injunction, putting the statute on hold pending further trial.

After an approximately two-hour hearing, Judge Owens ruled that the plaintiffs, who include four healthcare providers, “have clearly demonstrated probable success in the matter and that at least some of the plaintiffs will suffer potentially irreparable harm.” when the ban came into effect.

Medicated abortions are already banned in states with near-total bans, since those bans outlaw all forms of abortion. But Wyoming was the first state to ban the use of abortion pills independently of a blanket ban. The law was due to go into effect on July 1.

The ban, passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Gordon in March, makes it illegal to “prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell, or use any drug to induce or perform an abortion.”

Any physician or other person found guilty of violating this law will be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison and a $9,000 fine. The law specifically provides that pregnant women are exempt from charges and penalties.

In the year since the Supreme Court overturned the national right to abortion, Wyoming’s Republican-controlled Legislature is seeking to ban abortion in the state.

Last year, Judge Owens temporarily imposed a near-total ban on abortion, which she said seemed at odds with an amendment to the Wyoming Constitution that guarantees adults the right to make their own health decisions. An overwhelming majority of Wyoming citizens voted in favor of this change in 2012.

In March, Parliament passed and the governor signed another near-total abortion ban that attempted to circumvent this constitutional amendment by declaring that abortion is not health care. Judge Owens temporarily blocked that law shortly after it was signed into law, saying she challenges the state’s claim that abortion is not health care.

The question of whether abortion is a health care was also a key aspect of Thursday’s hearing banning drug-based abortions. Jay Jerde, Assistant Attorney General for Wyoming, argued that although physicians and other health care providers must be involved in abortions, there are many instances where “an abortion does not provide medical care because it is not intended to protect the woman’s body to recover from pain.” , physical illness or disease.”

Judge Owens challenged Mr Jerde’s reasoning. “Essentially, under this law, the government makes the decision for a woman,” she said, “rather than for the woman to make her own decision about health care, which the overwhelming majority in Wyoming has decided we should do.”

Plaintiffs in this case, challenging all of the prohibitions in separate lawsuits, include the only two abortion providers in Wyoming; an obstetrician-gynecologist who often treats high-risk pregnancies; a nurse in the emergency room; a fund that funds abortion patients; and one woman who said her Jewish faith required access to abortion when a pregnant woman’s physical or mental health or life was in danger.

A ban on medical abortions would have significant repercussions because nearly all recent abortions in the state have used pills as a method, plaintiffs’ attorney Marci Bramlet said in court. Nationwide, pills are now used in over half of all abortions. Only one of the providers in Wyoming offers the other method, surgical abortions.

“The ban aims only to ban medical abortions, not all abortions, which completely undermines the state’s stated goal of preserving prenatal life and allows for surgical abortions, which are more physically, financially and logistically invasive,” Ms Bramlet said the court. “The law tells women, ‘You can have an abortion in Wyoming without using the safe, effective, and FDA-approved drugs.'”

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