Wyoming Attorney General Verifies Roe Overturn; Law Official In 10 Days Or Less

Wyoming Attorney General Bridgette Hill ruled on Thursday that the overturn of Roe vs. Wade is compatible with Wyoming's trigger ban outlawing nearly all abortions. In 10 days or less, performing an abortion in Wyoming will be a felony.

Clair McFarland

July 22, 20224 min read

People rally for and against abortion outside the Wyoming Capitol in Cheyenne.
People rally for and against abortion outside the Wyoming Capitol in Cheyenne. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

The overturn of Roe vs. Wade is compatible with Wyoming’s trigger ban outlawing nearly all abortions, the attorney general ruled Thursday.  

In 10 days or less, performing an abortion in the state will be a felony punishable by up to 14 years in prison, except in cases of rape, incest, or severe health or death risks.  

Wyoming AG Bridget Hill on Thursday verified the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 overturn of landmark abortion case Roe vs. Wade in a letter to Gov. Mark Gordon.  

“I have received the Attorney General’s analysis,” Gordon said Thursday. “I will give it prompt attention, review it overnight and consult with the Attorney General before proceeding.”  

While the 1973 precedent in Roe had treated abortion as a constitutional right for nearly 50 years, its overturn returns regulatory power over abortion to the states. Wyoming is one of 13 states that had a trigger ban – or law triggered by the Supreme Court’s overturn – in place in June.  

Gordon now has five days to certify the law to Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, after which it would become official law within another five days.  

With Hill’s announcement also comes her pledge to defend the new law against court challenges.  

“The Office of the Wyoming Attorney General stands ready to defend it,” she wrote in conclusion of her letter to Gordon.  

Though typical for the AG to be tasked with defending the state’s laws, Hill’s pronounced duty comes amid efforts by the U.S. Congress to federally codify the abortion-access right once assured by Roe.  

For example, the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022, penned in May in response to early indicators that Roe would be overturned, would make abortion access a right in the eyes of federal law.  

‘They Stand For Life’ 

Hill’s letter also was sent Thursday to the Joint Judiciary Committee of the Wyoming Legislature, which oversees changes in criminal law.  

Co-chaired by Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne, and Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, the committee now has a duty to make the ban’s language compatible with the rest of Wyoming’s laws.   

Nethercott could not be reached by phone Thursday evening.  

Olsen said he has received the document.  

He also said empowering the states and the people within them with policy decisions like this is foundational to America’s government.  

“Our Constitutional Republic is inherently built on the assumption that policy decisions like this rest with the people and the states,” Olsen told Cowboy State Daily in a text Thursday. “The people of Wyoming have made it clear they stand for life and the rights of innocent unborn children.”  

As for tweaking the law to make it fit the books, there seems to be no immediate urgency, Olsen indicated.  

“Neither the Dobbs decision (overturning Roe) nor the Attorney General’s certification solicits or warrants any action from the committee at this time,” said Olsen.  

The committee’s next meeting is slated for Sept. 12.  

Hard Stand 

When a draft copy of the high court’s decision was leaked to the press in May, a prominent Democratic lawmaker in Wyoming said giving abortion policy decisions back to the states would change how state legislators behave.  

“This is going to really open a new discussion,” said Senate Minority Floor Leader Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, at the time. “All of the prior debate has been speculative and politically safe for proponents of turning back abortion. It was always just politics to them, because nothing could really be done (to overturn Roe v. Wade).” 

As a result, some legislators who have publicly supported outlawing abortion in the past for appearance’s sake now will have to determine whether they truly do support the ban, he said. 

Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody, is the Republican legislator who sponsored Wyoming’s trigger ban to outlaw abortion.  

Rodriguez-Williams agreed with Rothfuss in part, telling Cowboy State Daily in May that some lawmakers could have voted pro-life for political expedience before the high court’s decision gave the law real impact.  

But, she countered, she believes the majority of Wyoming citizens hold pro-life values and will make it known at the polls.  

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter