Wyoming Abortion Ban Bill Approved With Rape And Incest Exemption

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would ban abortions in Wyoming should the U.S. Supreme Court decide to overturn its landmark abortion ruling Roe vs. Wade passed the Senate on its third reading Thursday morning.

House Bill 92, introduced by Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R–Cody, would ban abortions in the state except when the mother faces serious risks of death or irreversible physical impairments.

Left intact was an amendment added by the Senate that would allow abortions in cases of rape or incest, an amendment that was rejected by the House. As a result, the bill will now head for a joint conference committee, where members of the House and Senate will try to reach a compromise over the language.

The exception amendment elicited debate among a handful of senators when it was approved on Wednesday, including its sponsor, Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, who argued that a woman should have autonomy over her own body, particularly in cases when she has been traumatized by the circumstances leading up to that pregnancy.

Sen. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne, argued against the amendment, saying that historically, sexual assaults take years to adjudicate in the courts.

“And by that time, the young lady could have had two or three children,” she said. “Incest, and this may sound amazing to you, may be the only way for this young lady to be able to prove that she has been molested. Taken away, that evidence, by taking away a life, may mark that young lady for life, sentencing an innocent human to death because of the way they were conceived.”

On third reading of the bill Thursday morning, Hutchings also introduced an granting the state’s governor – as opposed to the attorney general – final review of the Supreme Court case related to the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.

The landmark legislation of Roe vs. Wade made abortion federally legal in the country, taking away the state’s rights to make it illegal.

During the third reading of the bill Thursday morning, Sen. Case urged the body to vote against it, calling it “a form of bondage.”

“Mr. President, to have the state control these very intimate, personal private decisions is a very big step,” he said. “…I hope that we won’t pretend like everything is black or white. We won’t pretend like the servitude of women doesn’t matter. We will stand up and we will not pass this bill.”

The bill passed 24-5 with one excused.

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