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Montana Planned Parenthood To Stop Selling Abortion Pills To Women From Wyoming

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Fearing possible civil and criminal repercussions, Planned Parenthood of Montana on Thursday announced it will stop supplying abortion pills to Wyoming women once the state’s abortion ban takes effect.  

Martha Fuller, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Montana, said in a staff email Thursday that the implications of providing abortion services to women from states where abortions are outlawed has forced the organization to halt such services, though it will still schedule surgical abortions regardless of state residency.

“The risks around cross-state provision of services are currently less than clear, with the potential for both civil and criminal action for providing abortions in states with bans,” the email said.

Virtually all Wyoming abortions in the past three years have been induced by medication.  

Wyoming is one of 13 states with a “trigger ban” in place, that is, a law outlawing abortion following any decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the landmark abortion rights case Roe vs. Wade. 

The Supreme Court did overturn the case on June 24, putting authority over abortions into the hands of the states rather than guaranteeing it as a fundamental right.  

The Planned Parenthood email focused in on women from South Dakota, where a trigger ban already has taken effect.  

“Patients from South Dakota (and other states with total bans CURRENTLY in effect – we are highlighting SD because we see a significant number of patients from there) will not be able to received (sic) medication abortion services at PPMT,” the email continued, adding that future patients will be required to show proof of residency.  

“This was a hard decision to make, and I want you to know that it is based on protecting our providers and patients,” it said. 

Fuller opined that the change would impact Indigenous women more than others. 

PPMT on Friday did not take further questions, but sent Cowboy State Daily a prepared statement emphasizing that women still can receive in-clinic abortions in Montana. 

Montana does not have a trigger ban in place. 

All Wyo Abortions Chemical 

Though South Dakota is currently contemplating legislation banning abortion pills, Wyoming’s trigger ban will link up with preexisting legal definitions to ban abortions induced by medication outright.  

The pills in question are Mifepristone, which blocks pregnancy-sustaining hormone progesterone, and Misoprostol, which causes uterine contractions and bleeding. Taken together over several hours, the pills cause a woman to miscarry.  

More than half of the abortions in the United States are induced through medication. But in Wyoming, practically all of them are.   

In 2021, there were 98 abortions in Wyoming; all 98 were chemical abortions. In 2020, 88 out of 91 abortions were chemically induced, and in 2019, the figure was 31 out of 31.  

The procedure is approved for women who are less than 11 weeks pregnant and in consequence, all abortions reported in Wyoming for the past three years, except for one “unknown,” occurred before 11 weeks’ gestation.  

Nation’s Top Prosecutor 

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, who oversees all federal prosecutors in the nation, vowed Friday to maintain abortion access as much as he’s able. 

Garland also said that states “may not” ban abortion pill Mifepristone because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already has approved the drug.  

However, whether states can ban FDA-approved abortion pills completely is not yet settled law, and is yet another post-Roe question in need of judicial review, the Washington Post reported in May.  

“We don’t know how the court would rule. It’s an open question,” Patti Zettler, associate professor of Ohio State University, told the Post.  

The University of Wyoming law school faculty has not been responding to questions relating to new abortion laws, UW spokesman Chad Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.  

“Nobody is willing to talk about it,” said Baldwin. “I’ve looked and just nobody seems either able or willing to opine on issues, including the one you’ve just described.”  

The school’s pharmacy also did not immediately respond to a voicemail requesting comment.  

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‘We Matter, We Vote:’ Hundreds Turn Out For Roe Rally In Cheyenne On Thursday

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A crowd of several hundred gathered in front of the Wyoming’s Capitol on Thursday to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn the landmark abortion ruling “Roe vs. Wade.”

The crowd began to gather more than one-half hour before the start of the “Rally for Our Reproductive Rights,” with attendees holding signs to protest the ruling, chanting and cheering any cars that drove by and honked in support.

“We matter, we vote,” was one of the chants. Some of the signs included the longstanding “My body, my choice” phrase, while others called on the U.S. Supreme Court to keep its “hands” off of their genitals or accusing U.S. Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas of being sexual abusers.

Cheyenne resident Rikki Cruz brought her two daughters, Ember and Savvy, along with her husband to the rally on Thursday because she said the overturning of Roe would affect the young girls down the road.

Rikki (left), Savvy (center) and Ember Cruz attended the “Rally For Our Reproductive Rights” in Cheyenne on Thursday.

“Ember, my nine-year-old, has already said she doesn’t want to have kids. She’s like, ‘They’re not interesting,'” Cruz told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday, as her daughter agreed with her mother in the background. “She wanted to be included and she wants to fight for her right when she comes of age.”

Ember Cruz told Cowboy State Daily she was mad about the decision, holding up a sign that said “I’m not in your little book club, stay out of my uterus,” with a hand-drawn picture of a Bible and fire surrounding it.

During the rally, speakers such as Wyoming Equality executive director Sara Burlingame and Wyoming Senate candidates Marcie Kindred and Ted Hanlon spoke. Time was also given to women to share their stories about why abortion rights were so important and need to be protected.

“I have daughters, I have daughters-in-law, I have granddaughters and I’m worried about them,” Hanlon said. “I have wonderful women friends and I’m worried about them. I have precious friends and family in the LGBTQ community and I’m worried about them.

“This is not the time for nuance and ambiguity. It’s a time to be crystal clear. A woman has an absolute right to make her own decisions about her own body,” Hanlon continued.

A majority of the Supreme Court last week ruled that access to abortions is not a constitutionally guaranteed right and that the issue should be decided by the states. In the wake of the decision, Wyoming’s “trigger ban” law will ban most abortions in the state in less than one month.

Cheyenne residents were not the only ones to turn out for the rally, nor were the participants only women.

Cowboy State Daily columnist Rod Miller could be seen in the crowd, along with Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, and a number of colorful participants, including a woman dressed as a handmaid from the television show “The Handmaid’s Tale” and a man who donned short shorts and spiked heels who held a sign that said “Walk in her shoes.”

Megan Cragun was among a group of women who drove from Rawlins to attend the rally. All four of the women told Cowboy State Daily that this was the first time any of them had gone to such a protest.

“If they have the right to make the choices, we deserve to have the same rights,” Cragun said. “Wyoming is the Equality State. I think that should stand as a point for the rest of the United States.”

Her friend, Kimberly Morse, who held a sign featuring a coat hanger (imagery often linked to unsafe and sometimes deadly abortions) told Cowboy State Daily she remembers the days when women used to use hangers and that the nation should not go back to that.

“It’s not right,” she said.

Another woman in the group said people should be “pissed” about the ruling and added if they are not, then they are not paying attention to the world around them.

Rock Springs resident Mya Boren told Cowboy State Daily that she also had never protested before Thursday, but felt she needed to attend because the abortion ruling is part of a larger issue.

“Unfortunately, people don’t see that right now, even the ones who are celebrating this ruling,” she said. “This impacts them, too. This is about our right to our body.”

She said that despite Wyoming being the Equality State, women are not equal in the state or nation and never have been.

“It’s beyond morality. It’s about rights. This is about freedom,” Boren said.

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AOC’s Plan To Put Abortion Clinics On Fed Land In Wyoming Not Very Feasible

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
clair@cowboystatedaily.com

A plan put forth in a passionate plea by a New York congresswoman to put abortion clinics on federal lands in conservative states would face a series of hurdles in Wyoming, where roughly half the land is federally held.  

“Open abortion clinics on federal lands right now! – right now!” U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, chanted Friday during a protest in Union Square. 

News outlets have since reported that Ocasio-Cortez was trying to persuade President Joe Biden to install abortion clinics on federal lands, which include national parks like Yellowstone and tribal regions like the Wind River Indian Reservation.  

Ocasio-Cortez and numerous Democratic lawmakers were livid Friday when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned landmark abortion case Roe vs. Wade, putting authority over abortions into the hands of the states rather than making the procedure a constitutionally protected right across the country.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, also raised the idea, telling reporters that “(Biden should) explore just how much we can start using federal lands as a way to protect people who need access to abortions,” in states about to ban the procedure.  

Abortion is slated to become illegal in Wyoming in less than a month.  

Hyde Amendment 

For Biden’s administration to build and fund abortion clinics anywhere – including on federal lands – is generally illegal under the Hyde Amendment, a provision of U.S. law prohibiting federal funding of all abortions except in the case of incest, rape, and severe health crises.  

The law does not forbid an abortion provider from opening a private clinic on federal lands.  

However, privately-funded abortionists can’t work without a state medical license, if they’re working in Wyoming. 

Doctors working in federal facilities can operate under a license from any U.S. jurisdiction, but health care providers working in private facilities within Wyoming’s borders must have a Wyoming medical license.  

‘Closing Any Loopholes’  

State law currently does not list performing abortions as grounds for the Wyoming Medical Board to revoke a doctor’s license, which Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody, said she sees as a “loophole.”  

Rodriguez-Williams was the sponsor of Wyoming’s “trigger ban,” outlawing abortion after the Supreme Court’s decision. She told Cowboy State Daily that she is considering revising Wyoming’s medical licensing laws to prevent abortions on federal property. 

“I will be committed to close any loopholes that we become aware of, whether it’s (by) drafting a bill to codify something in state statute that deals with the board of medicine… or drafting a bill that prevents aiding and abetting (abortions),” she said.

Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, who co-sponsored the trigger ban, agreed with Rodriguez-Williams, adding that changing medical licensing laws around the new legal landscape shouldn’t be a problem for the Legislature that passed a trigger ban.

“Considering the fact that the current law going into place no later than July 29 has a 14-year prison term for performing an abortion, I don’t think it would be a far stretch to say that we’d remove someone’s license to practice,” said Bear.  

Wind River 

A privately-funded abortionist likewise could operate legally on the Wind River Indian Reservation, especially as the current U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has pledged to do all in his power to preserve abortion access.  

The reservation falls under tribal jurisdiction for misdemeanor crimes and federal jurisdiction for felony-level crimes. Neither forbids abortion.  

However, non-tribal members on the reservation can still be prosecuted under state law. 

Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun said he would prosecute under the new abortion ban as far as his jurisdiction allows.  

“If have jurisdiction, I’ll prosecute it,” he said.  

As with federal public lands and state parks, doctors operating on the reservation must have medical licenses. 

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Future Of Rape, Incest Exemptions In Wyoming Abortion Law Unsure, Wyo Senator Says

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A state senator from Lander could not speculate Wednesday on whether legislators will revisit the law banning abortions in Wyoming to remove the exemptions for rape and incest.

Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that when he added the exemptions to the bill creating a “trigger abortion ban” in the case Roe vs. Wade was ever overturned, the vote to adopt it in the Senate was split almost down the middle.

“It passed 15 to 14 in the Senate,” Case said. “With bills, you have to have the majority of those elected, but with amendments, it just has to the majority of those present. One senator was not there, but had she been, the vote would have been divided, 15-15, and my amendment wouldn’t have passed.”

The Legislature, during its budget session earlier this year, approved legislation to outlaw abortions in case the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned Roe vs. Wade the landmark court ruling from 1973 that declared abortion a protected right across the country. Under the law, abortions must become illegal in Wyoming within 35 days of such a ruling.

When the law was making its way through the Legislature, it did not allow exemptions in the cases of rape. That language was added by Case in the bill’s final Senate review.

Case said he felt strongly about adding the rape and incest exemptions to the abortion bill. While the senator said he understood his colleagues’ moral intent in crafting abortion legislation, he said it was important to have exceptions for rape and incest in the bill.

“Rape and incest exemptions have traditionally existed and there’s good reason,” he said. “If you don’t have it, you’re literally telling women that they will be carrying a child conceived from rape or incest and they have no choice in the matter. I look at the burden that we placed on women and autonomy over their bodies and decisions they can make in their lives.”

Removing the language would require the development of a new bill, which would then have win legislative approval.

However, he said he did not know what future Legislatures will look like and would not speculate on the possibility of removing the exemptions.

The abortion bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody, did not return Cowboy State Daily’s repeated requests for comment this week, nor did several of her bill co-sponsors: Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, Rep. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, Sen. Lynn Huchings, R-Cheyenne, Rep. Jamie Flitner, R-Greybull and Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland.

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Supreme Court Ruling Means Abortion In Wyoming Will Be Illegal Shortly

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

In 35 days or less, Wyoming is slated to outlaw nearly all abortions.  

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Friday overturning the landmark abortion ruling Roe vs. Wade, the clock began ticking on Wyoming’s “trigger law” approved this year banning most abortions. 

“Today is a wonderful day. It’s a dream come true,” state Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody, told Cowboy State Daily on Friday morning. “We’re living in a post-Roe America, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

However, others criticized the court’s ruling as taking away a fundamental right for women.

“It’s a sad day for women across the country, having their fundamental right taken away,” said Sen. Mike Gierau, D-Jackson. “I think it’s not good for the country; I think this whole issue has always been theoretical in the state and now it’s going to become real.”  

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday morning overturned Roe vs. Wade, which in 1973 deemed abortion access a constitutional right. The current Supreme Court justices, in a 6-3 majority opinion, declared that abortion access is not a fundamental right, but is a legal issue best left to state governments.  

Wyoming, now with more power over abortion law than it has had in 50 years, is one of 13 states with a trigger ban in place, which fast-tracks the outlawing of abortion in the event of any overturn of Roe vs. Wade. Wyoming’s trigger ban and preexisting statute together would make abortions felonies punishable by up to 14 years in prison except in the case of severe health or death risks, rape and incest.  

The definition of “abortion” in Wyoming law includes both surgical and non-surgical procedures, including pills used for elective terminations of pregnancy.  

In 2021 there were 98 abortions reported by Wyoming physicians. Of those, 62 of the mothers had not had children prior; 16 had one child prior; 11 had two children, six had had three, and three had four or more children prior to the abortion, according to state vital statistics.  

Governor’s Desk 

The state must launch an internal conversation before changing the law. Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill has no more than 30 days to review the Supreme Court’s decision, and, if she finds the ruling aligns with Wyoming’s trigger ban, she must then report it to the governor and to the Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee, which alters criminal statutes.  

Within five days of the AG’s nod, Gov. Mark Gordon “may,” the statute says, certify the new law and prompt the secretary of state to publish the change in statute.  

Gordon did not guarantee that he would certify the change, but in a general statement dispatched Friday, he indicated that he agrees with the idea of the state taking primacy over abortion law. 

“This is a decisive win for those who have fought for the rights of the unborn for the past 50 years,” Gordon said. “I signed Wyoming’s prohibition on abortion bill because I believe that the decision to regulate abortions should be left to the states.” 

Strategy 

Although elated, Rodriguez-Williams said now is the time to get to work. The legislator sponsored Wyoming’s trigger ban but resisted its exemptions for rape and incest, telling Cowboy State Daily in a past interview that “abortion clinics are a rapist’s best friend” and can be used to hide criminal evidence.

She called the court’s Friday ruling “exciting” and described it not just as a win for life, but for states’ rights. 

Pro-choice advocates also are mobilizing, in a different direction, and hoping to preserve the rape and incest exemptions in Wyoming’s law while urging voters to favor pro-choice candidates at the polls.  

“Sadly, the efforts to restrict abortion in Wyoming have likely only just begun,” said Rep. Patrick Sweeney, R-Casper, in a Friday press conference hosted by Julie Burkhart, Wellspring Health Access founder, who has been working to open an abortion clinic in Casper. 

The abortion clinic last month was burned in a reported arson. 

A self-described pro-choice advocate, Sweeney was one of a handful of Republican legislators to vote against Rodriguez-Williams’s trigger ban late this winter. He said he’s not hopeful that Wyoming’s pro-choice delegates are numerous enough to overturn the trigger ban, and recalled that it was a difficult fight to add the exemptions, which he said he’s committed to preserving.  

“I don’t see a way to fight back on this and it was, as you’re all aware, pretty futile to even vote against it,” said Sweeney, noting that it was Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, who led efforts in the Senate to insert the exemptions “at the last minute.”  

“Otherwise those would have been left out,” Sweeney said. 

Members of the Democratic Caucus to Wyoming’s Legislature, in a prepared statement, pledged to battle any attempts to remove the rape and incest exemptions from the law.

“As your Wyoming Democratic Caucus, we will resist these efforts, and are saddened and angered by our colleagues’ continual push to curtail our human rights,” the statement said. “We remind Wyomingites that this is an election year, and voters should understand what their candidates stand for: supporting raising Wyoming families or government control of reproductive decisions.”

Lawsuit? 

Burkhart told the media in the same press conference that her organization’s resistance will be immediate, but she’s not yet certain what form it will take. 

She indicated she may pursue legal action, but did not commit to it, saying she believes that the state’s Constitution in Article I, Section 38, defends “bodily autonomy.”

The Constitution section states that all competent adults have the right to make their own health care decisions without “undue government infringement.”  

However, another paragraph in the same section gives the Legislature the right to “determine reasonable and necessary restrictions on the rights granted under this section to protect the health and general welfare of the people…”

Burkhart, whose clinic is slated to provide other care, counseling, and “gender-affirming care,” said it’s too soon to determine whether the clinic can survive with abortions generally outlawed.  

She also worried that the ruling would place already-underserved populations under financial and time burdens, as women will be forced to seek abortions in other states.  

Colorado is poised to offer abortion still, following the ruling. 

Church And State 

Rev. Leslie Kee, who spoke alongside Burkhart at the virtual press conference, said a key pro-choice strategy going forward is to advance an argument for separation of church and state.  

“It is a moral and religious issue because the religious, fundamental right worked very hard to put six conservative Christian justices on the Supreme Court, and by doing that they have effectively used the government to privilege their own source of ultimate moral authority, which is the ‘our father in heaven’ God of the bible,” said Kee, emphasizing that different women may have different interpretations of their “god” and their god’s expectations for them.   

“How is this religious slippery slope they’ve set us on now any different than what the Taliban is doing to women in Iraq?” Kee asked rhetorically.  

Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett, countered in his own interview that the issue is not about imposing religious pressure, but about the intrinsic value of unborn life. 

“Wyoming was at the forefront of this (trigger ban). We had the opportunity to do what was right, and Wyoming did it,” said Neiman. “Wyoming is officially among the few states to say we believe in, and we protect life.”  

Neiman, a trigger-ban co-sponsor, said he was thankful and honored to have been a part of the process, adding that he will work to repeal the rape and incest exemptions, which he deemed discriminatory.  

“Stop and think about that. That’s discriminatory. Those little kids conceived in that manner, they didn’t get to choose how they were conceived,” he said. “Does that make them guilty?”  

State Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, a co-sponsor of the trigger ban, said he was pleased to see the ruling.

“This is a wonderful moment for our country,” Gray, a candidate for Wyoming’s secretary of state office, said in a prepared statement. “After nearly 50 years of horrific abortion-on-demand policies in America, Roe v. Wade has been ended.  Now the pro-life law I helped cosponsor and pass in Wyoming will be triggered to ensure all innocent human beings can be protected in the Equality State.”

National Scene 

Wyoming’s all-Republican federal delegation added strong sentiments to the discussion Friday, while President Joe Biden issued a statement expressing opposite views.

“Many will try to use this decision to divide our country and her citizens, but ultimately, the Supreme Court chose to side with the founding principles of our country,” junior U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis said in a public statement. “The states should decide how to approach abortion. I’m grateful for this pro-life decision from the Court today.”  

Sen. Barrasso praised the return of power “back to states to legislate in a way that reflects the will of their voters.” 

“Opponents of this decision want unlimited, on-demand abortions – for any reason – up until the moment of birth,” he continued. “With today’s decision, the United States will no longer have the same anti-life laws as countries like communist China and North Korea.”  

Rep. Liz Cheney said she has “always been strongly pro-life” and likewise praised the return of power to the states.  

Conversely, Biden, in a brief statement, predicted the ruling will have negative implications for women, saying “the health and life of women in this nation are now at risk.”  

“Today the Supreme Court expressly took away a constitutional right for the American people,” Biden said. “They didn’t limit it. They simply took it away.”  

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Protests Break Out In Some Wyo Towns Over Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

In a conservative small Wyoming town like Cody, it takes a certain amount of courage to hold a pro-choice abortion rally to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

About a dozen people came out for the rally Friday night, brandishing signs such as “Not Your Body, Not Your Business,” and “My Body My Choice.” A few of the signs implored passersby to honk, bringing a chattering of horns and even the chime of a bike bell from people moving along their early evening rides.

To the surprise of a few of the protesters, there weren’t many negative comments levied at the group.

“There’s been a lot of honks,” said organizer Elizabeth Wells, between blares. “We’ll stay out here until they quit honking.”



Other pro-choice rallies were held in Casper and Jackson on Friday. The event in Jackson was attended by about 300 people, said organizer Maggie Hunt. Organizer Jane Ifland said her event in Casper drew around 100.

“It was comforting for us all see each other,” Ifland said.

At one point at the Cody rally, a woman who Wells had never met came up and gave her a heartfelt hug, holding the embrace for a number of seconds. She thanked Wells and then got back in her truck, sounding off a few emphatic honks as she was leaving the scene.

Wells said holding a rally was the best way she knows how to make her voice heard. As someone who had an abortion in the past, she can speak personally on the matter.

“Women in Wyoming should not have to travel to Colorado for health care,” she said. “We should absolutely not be punished for making our own choices for our bodies.”

She learned the Supreme Court had rendered its decision in a text from her friend Kadence Holman. The first thing Holman asked Wells was if she wanted to make signs, and the protest was on.

“There’s so many women who are scared to voice their opinion,” Wells said. “They’re scared to do anything about it, to have an opinion, to have a voice, and I’m out here for the women who couldn’t make it today.”



With the landmark 1973 abortion ruling overturned, the clock begins on a law that would ban abortions in the state except in the case of rape or incest. Wyoming legislators have already started discussing removing those exemptions. Holman said she has been the victim of rape.

“Women should have their own right to their own body,” she said.

Joining Holman and Wells on Sheridan Avenue were Emily and Henry Jones, both carrying firearms concealed in holsters at their hips for self protection. 

In 2013, Emily Jones had an ectopic pregnancy, an event that occurs when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside the main cavity of the uterus. She was taken to the emergency room in order to save her life.

The married couple worries the court’s decision will lead to certain states enacting stricter laws, such as making it a crime to receive an abortion in the event of miscarriages or to protect a mother’s well-being. 

Wells said she had her abortion for a stress-induced incomplete miscarraige.

“I did not even know I was pregnant,” she said.

Henry Jones’ father Larry Jones is a Cody attorney who also attended the protest, calling the Roe decision “a step back into the stone ages.” He said the the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito undercuts the basis for other rights such as same sex marriage and consensual sex and access to contraception.

Wells said she is now considering leaving the state for the sake of her daughter.

“For her to grow up in a state with the same rights I had I will move,” she said. “Because I live in a state with a trigger ban.”

Under Wyoming’s trigger ban enacted in this year’s legislature, nearly all abortions will be outlawed in the state within 35 days of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Emily Jones said this law is yet another reason why many younger people are leaving the state. But, she said they should keep up the good fight and remain optimistic when it comes to the future of the Cowboy State.

“I would encourage them to stay and fight the good fight because this is the Equality State even if it doesn’t feel like that,” she said.

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Pro-Choice Rallies Planned Around Wyoming In Wake Of Roe Vs. Wade Ruling

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Pro-choice groups planned to rally around the state on Friday night to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning the landmark abortion ruling “Roe vs. Wade.”

Organizers said at least three rallies would be held statewide, in Casper, Jackson and Cody.

“We’re trying to harness everybody’s energy immediately,” said Maggie Hunt, chairman of the Teton County Democratic Party.

Hunt said she has spread word to as many groups as possible regarding the peaceful protest the Teton County Democratic Party is hosting in Town Square, one of the most central and well-known spots in downtown Jackson. She said she is unsure how many will attend but is expecting a passionate group.

“We’ve already seen a huge outpouring of response,” she said.

The court on Friday overturned Roe vs. Wade, ruling abortion is not a constitutionally guaranteed right, and giving the states control over whether abortions will be allowed in their borders.

The court’s decision wasn’t a complete surprise to many pro-choice supporters due to the May leak of its draft decision. What did come as a surprise to some like Hunt was the court’s complete reversal of 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision. Five of the justices opined that abortion access is not a fundamental right guaranteed in the Constitution, but rather a legal issue best left to state governments.  

The decision starts the clock on Wyoming’s “trigger ban,” which will outlaw abortions in the state, except for cases of rape or incest, no more than 35 days after Roe vs. Wade is overturned.

“The Supreme Court action they took today to withdraw rights has never been done before,” said Jane Ifland, an advisory committee member for the Wellspring Health Access clinic, who is helping organize the Casper rally.

That rally was to take place outside True Care Women’s Resource Center on Poplar Street. 

Wellspring is a full-service reproductive health care clinic under construction in Casper which plans to offer abortions as part of its services. It was damaged in an arson-caused fire last month.

Ilfand said multiple Supreme Court justices lied to Congress about their stance on abortion during their confirmation hearings.

“This (decision) affects the majority of people in America,” she said. “There are more people with a uterus than without.”

Hunt said the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and other organizations are exploring their legal options for overturning Wyoming’s trigger ban.

“This violates bodily, autonomy and an individual’s right to privacy,” she said.

Hunt also hopes the court’s decision will bring a surge of motivation to pro-choice voters that could make an impact on the elections this fall.

Although the court decision on the matter had been expected for some time, it was unknown to the public that it would be released Friday morning.

The Cody rally was to take place in downtown City Park.

All of the rallies were to start at 5 p.m.

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Supreme Court Overturns Roe Vs. Wade, Returns Abortion Regulation To States

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

There is no constitutional right to abortion, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday morning in a ruling putting the decision of whether abortions will be allowed in the hands of the states.

In a 6-3 majority opinion, the court overturned the 1973 landmark abortion ruling “Roe vs. Wade,” which declared abortion a constitutional right to be observed in all states.

“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion … and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” said a summary of the ruling.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit challenging a Mississippi law that prohibited abortions from being performed after the 15th week of pregnancy, several weeks before the point at which a fetus is considered viable outside the womb.

A lower court overturned the law as being in violation of Roe vs. Wade and an appeals court upheld that decision.

The challenge to the Mississippi law said it was contrary to the finding of Roe vs. Wade, but the Supreme Court, in the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, said Roe vs. Wade was a flawed ruling to begin with.

“We hold that Roe … must be overruled,” Alito wrote. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision…”

Alito said Roe vs. Wade’s errors were perpetuated as courts relied on it to make rulings on abortion after 1973.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, in a dissenting opinion, said the majority opinion disregards years of balancing the ability of states to regulate abortions in a way to protect life of a viable fetus with a woman’s right to choose whether to obtain an abortion.

“(The majority) says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of,” the dissent said. “A state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”

The dissenting opinion also argued the majority of the court disregarded the effect its ruling will have on women seeking an abortion who live in states where it is not legal.

“Today’s decision, the majority says, permits ‘each state’ to address abortion as it pleases,” it said. “That is cold comfort, of course, for the poor woman who cannot get the money to fly to a distant state for a procedure. Above all others, women lacking financial resources will suffer from today’s decision.”

Meanwhile, Justice John Roberts, in a specially concurring opinion, chastised the court for overturning Roe vs. Wade when all it had to do was rule on whether Mississippi’s time period for allowing abortions fell within constitutional limits.

“None of this … requires that we also take the dramatic step of altogether eliminating the abortion right first recognized in Roe,” he wrote.

Roberts noted that in its first brief to the Supreme Court, even Mississippi officials said a review of the state’s law would not require the court to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Roberts said he did not share the certainty about laws surrounding abortion that both the majority and the minority held.

“Both the court’s opinion and the dissent display a relentless freedom from doubt on the legal issue that I cannot share,” he wrote. “I am not sure, for example, that a ban on terminating a pregnancy from the moment of conception must be treated the same under the Constitution as a ban after 15 weeks.”

Meanwhile, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in his own concurring opinion, praised the court for separating the issue of abortion from the Constitution.

“In my judgment, on the issue of abortion, the Constitution is neither pro-life nor pro-choice,” he wrote. “The Constitution is neutral and this Court likewise must be scrupulously neutral. The Court today properly heeds the constitutional principle of judicial neutrality and returns the issue of abortion to the people and their elected representatives in the democratic process.”

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Casper Abortion Clinic Plans To Open Despite Possible Roe V. Wade Reversal

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Despite a leaked U.S. Supreme Court document indicating justices will reverse the landmark abortion rights case Roe V. Wade¸ a fledgling Casper abortion clinic still plans to open in June.  

Julie Burkhart, founder of Wellspring Health Access, which was previously called Circle of Hope Health Care Services, released a statement Tuesday morning indicating that she and her team intend to fight any attempt to outlaw abortion – and they still intend to open the abortion clinic.    

“Abortion remains legal in Wyoming,” reads Burkhart’s statement, calling the leaked opinion indicative of “a devastating blow to abortion access in Wyoming and across the country.” 

“We firmly maintain our resolve to ensure that the people of this state can get the health care they need,” she said.

On Monday, a U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion draft believed to be authored by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked to Politico. Alito is purported to have written that “Roe and Casey (a related 1992 ruling) must be overturned,” and that Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.” 

In a later interview with Cowboy State Daily, Burkhart called the leaked draft opinion “horrific.”  

Roe v. Wade in 1973 and the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 declared women had a constitutional right to an abortion through the first trimester of pregnancy, or up to viability, making the procedure legal nationally.

Wyoming is one of many states with a trigger ban in place, that is, a law banning abortions in the event that Roe V. Wade was overturned by the high court.  

Under the trigger law, abortions still would be legal in Wyoming in cases involving a risk of death or extreme harm to the mother, rape, and incest.  

Abortions remain legal in Wyoming because the U.S. Supreme Court has not made its ruling official and is not expected to do so for several weeks or months.

Burkhart said she and her team still are “staunchly and fully committed to offering the full spectrum of reproductive health care, including abortion” at the new clinic.  

The Casper clinic is slated to be the second of two abortion clinics in the state, with the first in Jackson.  

Burkhart told Cowboy State Daily that the clinic still plans to open and operate for two reasons: she and her organization intend to fight Wyoming’s trigger ban in the courts or otherwise, and the clinic will offer other types of “reproductive healthcare” and “gender-affirming” treatment.  

The gender treatment to be offered at Wellspring will not include surgical alteration for gender dysphoria, though clients may be referred to outside surgeons by clinicians. Clinic organizers plan to offer counseling and hormonal treatments, said Burkhart.  

Trigger Ban Signed By Governor 

Marti Halverson, president of Wyoming Right To Life, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that her organization is concerned about the leak of the draft opinion, the first in the Supreme Court’s history, and hopes to see an investigation into the incident.  

She also said Wyoming is poised and ready for any legal or legislative challenge to the trigger law launched by Burkhart and other proponents of abortions in the state.  

Gov. Mark Gordon, noted Halverson, signed the trigger law that his attorney general would be expected to defend in the face of a legal challenge.  

“We are confident that Governor Gordon is going to enforce the provisions” of the trigger ban, said Halverson, adding that the bill passed both the state Senate and House “overwhelmingly.”  

Several surrounding states have trigger bans in place, but Wyoming’s southern neighbor Colorado is not one of them. Northern neighbor Montana does not have a trigger ban in place, but Guttmacher.org deemed it “likely” to ban abortion in the event of a high court reversal.  

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Potential Roe V. Wade Reversal Generates Diverse Wyoming Opinions

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Members of Wyoming groups opposed to and in supportive of abortion rights were divided Tuesday over news a draft ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court seemed to show the court was preparing to overturn the landmark abortion rights ruling Roe v. Wade.

“We’re thrilled that this decision would return the authority to regulate abortion in the state,” said Marti Halverson, president of Right to Life of Wyoming.

“We’ve all had it in the back of our minds that this could be a possibility, but I don’t think I or anyone of my ilk really wanted to believe a complete overturn was possible or probable,” Sharon Breitweiser, executive director of Pro-Choice Wyoming, told Cowboy State Daily.

A U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion draft leaked to Politico on Monday purported to show that a majority of the court’s justices have voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion ruling that made abortions legal nationally in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Abortions remain legal across the country because the Supreme Court has not issued its final ruling on the case that spawned the court’s review of Roe v. Wade.

Halverson said her organization is “thrilled” at the aspect of the reversal of Roe v. Wade, although she expressed concern that for the first time in the Supreme Court’s history, one of its draft opinions had been leaked.

“I am devastated that there would be a leak out of the U.S. Supreme Court and I think (Chief) Justice (John) Roberts is right to order an investigation, period,” she said.

The Wyoming Legislature this year passed a trigger abortion ban – a law that would ban abortion in Wyoming five days after an official Supreme Court repeal of Roe V. Wade.  

Halverson said Right to Life was also excited about the trigger bill going into effect, adding that the group expected Gov. Mark Gordon to “do his duty and enforce the provisions” of the bill.

While Breitweiser said she took comfort in the knowledge that the opinion likely wouldn’t move forward for several weeks or even months, she also was coming to terms with the likelihood that the opinion would be issued and authority over whether abortions would remain legal would go to the states.

“While Wyoming was never some ideal haven for abortions, we’ve gone from this supposedly proud legacy of valuing women’s equality and freedom from government interference and a ‘live and let live’ attitude to being one of the 13 worst states in the U.S. that will absolutely outlaw abortion” she said. “It’s troubling to me.”

Wyoming Equality executive director Sara Burlingame shared a similar attitude on Tuesday with Cowboy State Daily.

“I never feel more like a Wyoming woman than when I’m protecting my bodily autonomy from the United States’ government,” she said. “I do not see that the U.S. government has the right to tell me when and how to bear children. Most women that I know in Wyoming feel the same.”

Adrienne Mansanares, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rockies, said on Tuesday that the Supreme Court had failed the nation with the draft opinion.

“We’ve long known that the current makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court is hostile to reproductive rights. While this opinion is only a draft, it’s clear our fears were justified,” she said. “If the decision comes down as drafted, this outcome is as dangerous as it is unprecedented, and will open the floodgates for states across the country to ban abortion. 

“As we navigate the implications of this devastating draft, we want to be clear: We’re not going anywhere. Our doors are open, abortion care is legal, and we’re here for our patients today and every day,” she continued.

The Diocese of Cheyenne declined to comment for this article.

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Pro-Life Group Holds Protest At Planned Abortion Clinic in Casper

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

An estimated 150 people staged a rally Thursday in to show their opposition to a planned abortion clinic in Casper.

Most in the crowd outside of the clinic in downtown Casper told Cowboy State Daily they were attending the rally to voice their opposition to abortion.

Former Natrona County legislator Bob Brechtel, who was a vocal opponent of abortion as a member of Wyoming’s House of Representatives, said the gathering was called so people could “peacefully pray.”

“We are for standing for human life, from natural conception to natural death,” Brechtel said.

Another attendee, Ross Schriftman, who moved from Philadelphia to Casper last year, said he was a member of the Jewish Pro-Life Foundation. He said he had a conversion “from being ambivalent about abortion to being very pro-life.”

“I’m reminded of my mother’s story,” he said without explaining what the story was about. “There are 19 people alive today because of her love and her commitment to her child.”



The new clinic between downtown Casper and the Wyoming Medical Center will be operated by Circle of Hope Health Care Services, which is incorporated in Washington, D.C., and headed up by founder Julie Burkhart, who is based in Colorado.

The clinic is funded by private donors and has been created and supported by a community advisory board of 15 people, Burkhart said, including faith leaders, tribal communities and health care advocates.

Thursday evening’s vigil is not expected to be a one-time event. Sheila Leach, president of the Park County chapter of Right to Life of Wyoming, said there will be 40 concurrent days of like protests noting that these are expected to be low-key and respectful.

“The purpose is to pray for the babies, the mother and the father and for the staff at the clinic,” Leach said. “And it’s always peaceful.”

The peaceful nature of the protest was something attendee John Perry told Cowboy State Daily was important.

“I’m here to pray for the unborn, and pray for the dignity of life,” Perry said. “I think the right to life is a primary and foundational right, and I believe in the dignity of all people, born and unborn.”

Others, like Rita Louis, said she was there to send a message that an abortion clinic was not something that should be located in Wyoming, let alone Casper.

Abortion Support

Although pro-life groups may oppose the clinic, groups supporting women’s access to reproductive health care are welcoming it.

Christine Lichtenfels, founder of Chelsea’s Fund, which supports Wyoming women’s access to abortion health care, told Cowboy State Daily that the clinic will allow Wyoming residents more access to the health care they need.

She noted that the clinic will do more than just provide abortions, it will also offer all types of reproductive care.

Lichtenfels said that people get abortions for various difficult reasons, such as abusive relationships or the inability to care for another child, but it is also their choice and right to do so.

“I am not going to accept the position that Wyoming is historically, staunchly anti-abortion,” she said. “U.S. Sen. Al Simpson was much more reflective of the true libertarian approach of Wyoming, where the government does not belong in telling people what to do in their individual lives.”

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First Abortion Clinic in Wyoming to Open in Casper

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By Jennifer Kocher and Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Women in Wyoming will soon have access to surgical abortions as a new clinic in Casper is slated to open this June.

And while the planned opening of the clinic is generating opposition among members of Wyoming’s pro-life organizations, it is being welcomed by those who say the state’s women need access to more reproductive health services.

The new clinic between downtown Casper and the Wyoming Medical Center will be operated by Circle of Hope Health Care Services, which is incorporated in Washington, D.C., and headed up by founder Julie Burkhart, who is based in Colorado.

The clinic is funded by private donors and has been created and supported by a community advisory board of 15 people, Burkhart said, including faith leaders, tribal communities and health care advocates.

“Our goal in launching this clinic is to ensure that more people in Wyoming and the broader region have access to the reproductive health care they need, including abortion care,” Burkhart said.

Currently, Wyoming has only one abortion provider and 96% of Wyoming women live in a county without an abortion clinic.

“This makes it one of many ‘abortion deserts’ nationwide,” Burkhart said. “As a result, abortion is often out of reach for many across the state, including people living in rural areas, members of Native tribes and those with low incomes. This new clinic will help address the severe lack of access to reproductive health care options that these communities currently face.”

Casper was chosen as the home to the clinic based on its central location and the fact it can be reached by a majority of Wyomingites, including those in rural communities who currently have access to only one clinic in Jackson or must go out of state for services.



The clinic’s operators are still determining the scope of services they will provide in addition to abortions. The goal is to offer close to a full spectrum of reproductive health care services that may include contraceptive care, family planning, maternal and prenatal care, and gender-affirming care.

“Our clinic will be a welcoming and accepting place for all people seeking reproductive health care in Wyoming and the broader region,” Burkhart said.

Burkhart said the clinic is in the process of hiring staff and operators do not have a precise opening date though they are aiming for sometime this summer, likely June.

The Wyoming clinic is the group’s first project, though Burkhart said it will continue to explore other opportunities to expand reproductive health care in other areas where services are restricted.

Burkhart has a long history of reproductive rights advocacy. She was the CEO and founder of Trust Women for 12 years, according to her bio, establishing and overseeing two abortion clinics and overseeing a third.

She also worked with renowned abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller, whose Kansas medical practice was at the center of torrent of violent protests and who was ultimately fatally shot by an anti-abortion extremist.

She acknowledged that the clinic will face opposition, including from members of Wyoming’s Legislature.

“Even though we all have different beliefs about abortion, one thing that we should be able to agree on is that women must be able to maintain the power to decide their own health care,” she said. “We hope that those who oppose our work will do so peacefully and without harassing or intimidating people seeking or providing reproductive health care.”

Protestors Galvanize

Right to Life of Wyoming President Marti Halverson told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that the clinic is an “abomination” and that her organization is already looking at several avenues to thwart its completion and opening.

“We are shocked,” she said. “We thought when we closed down the Planned Parenthood in 2017 that no one would try to come into Wyoming again.”

She also questioned the leadership behind Circle of Hope, noting the company’s address in Washington, D.C., is a simple mail drop box.

Sheila Leach, president of the Park County chapter of Right to Life of Wyoming, also expressed dismay at the news of a clinic in Casper and said that there is an ongoing grassroots effort involving pro-life activists across the state who are galvanizing in opposition to new clinic.

A pro-life Catholic group will be holding 40 days of prayer vigils beginning April 21, Leach said, which may continue until the clinic’s proposed opening.

“The purpose is to pray for the babies, the mother and the father and for the staff at the clinic,” Leach said. “And it’s always peaceful.”

Members from the Park County chapter may also go to Casper at some point, but she wasn’t sure when that might be.

“We are certainly concerned with this development,” she said.

Leach questioned the timing for the clinic’s opening, which comes on the heels of Gov. Mark Gordon’s signing of legislation that would automatically ban abortions in the state should the landmark U.S. Supreme Court abortion ruling Roe vs. Wade be overturned.

This was one of three proposed abortion measures up for consideration during the Legislature’s budget session and the only one that passed.

The bill would make abortion a criminal offense punishable by up to 14 years in prison should the federal case be overturned. Exceptions would be allowed in cases where the mother faces serious risks of death or irreversible physical impairments or in the case of rape or incest.

“(The clinic’s opening) feels like a pre-emptive challenge to the law,” Leach said.

Other legislators like Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, have been vocal in their dissent of the new clinic.

“With a Republican supermajority failing to pass any meaningful pro-life legislation, the baby murder mills see it as being a “safe place” to set up shop,” Bouchard said. “Sadly, there’s a large pro-abortion lobby in Wyoming that resides within the medical community. This new clinic is the sign that Wyoming is becoming more like Colorado.”

Current Abortion Laws

Under terms of the Roe vs. Wade ruling, abortion is legal in all states during the first trimester of pregnancy. Under Wyoming law, abortion is illegal if a fetus has reached viability – generally considered the point at which it can survive outside the mother’s womb – except to save the life of the mother.

Additional laws in Wyoming prevent physicians from terminating “viable infants,” as in late-term abortions, and require doctors to tell the patient she can view an active ultrasound of the unborn child and hear the heartbeat before the abortion.

According to Wyoming law, minors can only obtain an abortion with the permission of at least one guardian.

Public funding is available for abortion only if necessary to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest, and a law passed in 2019, requires healthcare providers to report all abortions to the Wyoming Department of Health.

According to this first report from the Vital Statistics Services, there were 91 abortions performed in Wyoming in 2020.

Of those abortions, all were medical, nonsurgical procedures with fetus gestation periods of 10 weeks or fewer. The majority of procedures – 45 – involved women 25-34 years old, followed by 29 women under the age of 24 and 17 women 35 years and older.

For the majority of the women it was the first procedure, while 21 women reported having an earlier medical, non-surgical abortion and five reported having two previous procedures.

Strong Support Locally

Although pro-life groups may oppose the clinic, groups supporting women’s access to reproductive health care are welcoming it.

Christine Lichtenfels, founder of Chelsea’s Fund, which supports Wyoming women’s access to abortion health care, told Cowboy State Daily that the clinic will allow Wyoming residents more access to the health care they need.

She noted that the clinic will do more than just provide abortions, it will also offer all types of reproductive care.

Lichtenfels said that people get abortions for various difficult reasons, such as abusive relationships or the inability to care for another child, but it is also their choice and right to do so.

“I am not going to accept the position that Wyoming is historically, staunchly anti-abortion,” she said. “U.S. Sen. Al Simpson was much more reflective of the true libertarian approach of Wyoming, where the government does not belong in telling people what to do in their individual lives.”

More than half of the women who seek abortions are already mothers.

Lichtenfels pointed to Colorado as a great example of lowering abortion rates by providing long-acting, but reversible, contraceptives for free and making them widely available.

But with the clinic opening in Wyoming, women are one step closer to having affordable, available reproductive health care closer to them.

“We’re very grateful that Circle of Hope is doing this to bring care to people in Wyoming,” Lichtenfels said. “In a state that calls itself the ‘Equality State,’ having access to abortion care means you’re valuing women as equals. They can make their own decisions and get the care they need.”

“The Craziness Stops Here”

Rev. Leslie Key of Casper said that she was approached by Burkhart to serve on the advisory board as a community liaison with other pro-choice advocates.

Key is thrilled that Circle of Hope chose Casper for its first clinic and said this has been a long-time battle both in the nation and the state.

As a member of the clergy, she has seen firsthand the impact that a lack of choice has on women. She noted women make the decision to end a pregnancy with great agony and prayerful conversations with their God.

“Nobody wants to use abortion as a form of birth control,” she said. “It’s a very personal and painful decision.”

Apart from a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, Key said she views the clinic as a much-needed pushback on members of the “religious right” who she feels have pushed their religious beliefs while overstepping the bounds of church and state.

“Why is a proud state that respects individual rights understating the difference between church and state?” she said. “It’s about bodily sovereignty. Who has control over your body? You or the religious right who are using the power of the government to dictate personal healthcare decisions? We’re not a theocracy controlled by one religious doctrine.”

To this end, Key also objected to those who believe their religious rights are favored over someone else’s.

“We have an opportunity to put our foot down and say no,” she said. “The craziness stops here.”

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Lummis Calls Supreme Court Abortion Hearing ‘Pivotal Moment For Our Country’

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis said Wednesday she would like to see a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Mississippi abortion ban, calling the case a “pivotal moment for our country.”

The court heard arguments on Wednesday regarding Mississippi’s abortion ban, which does not allow abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy except in extreme circumstances, such as a medical emergency, according to NBC News.

“This is a pivotal moment for our country and I continue to pray for a pro-life decision and for both mothers and the unborn,” Lummis said“Early in my legal career, I worked with birth mothers who were giving their babies up for adoption. It was an honor to help support birth mothers in facilitating adoptions, and seeing the look on adoptive parents’ faces as they held their child for the first time.

“I think it’s important to also note what a pro-life decision in (the Mississippi case) would not do. It would not ban all abortions,” Lummis continued. “The life of the mother would still be protected. A pro-life decision … would protect both the mother and her unborn child, and would assert to the world that we, as a nation, value life.”

NBC News reported that a majority of the Supreme Court’s conservative justices suggested they were prepared to discard the court’s previous standard set forth in Roe vs. Wade, which prevented states from banning abortion before a fetus becomes viable, which is generally considered to be at about 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

However, the three more liberal justices argued that the court would appear to be a political body if it tossed out abortion rulings that the country has relied on for decades, the outlet reported.

Earlier this year, Wyoming joined Texas and 23 other states in filing an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the decision to regulate elective abortions should be left to states.

In the brief joined by Wyoming, the 24 states agreed that nothing in the text, history, or tradition of the U.S. Constitution supports a right to elective abortion.

“This year has made abundantly clear that federal overreach harms Wyoming and its citizens,” Gov. Mark Gordon said at the time. “Wyoming must stand up for states’ rights. I am happy to extend support to Mississippi in order to properly keep state control over state issues, especially in the fight to protect the unborn.”

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Bill Preventing Selective Abortions Passes Through Wyoming Senate Committee

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A bill preventing abortions for selective reasons such as the sex or race of the unborn baby is heading to the Wyoming Senate for debates this week.

House Bill 161, sponsored by Rep. John Romero-Martinez, R-Cheyenne, would ban abortions performed because the unborn child diagnosed with a disability or for the reasons of race, sex, color, national origin or ancestry.

The Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee tackled the bill first in its meeting on Tuesday, ultimately unanimously voting to pass it out of the committee.

“A woman goes to a genetic test done and the test shows the child has Down syndrome or it’s mixed race or something, and for that reason only, they choose to have their unborn child killed,” Romero-Martinez said during his testimony. “This bill prevents that.”

In the bill, disabilities are defined as any disease, defect or disorder that is genetically inherited, including physical, mental and intellectual disabilities, physical disfigurement, scoliosis, dwarfism, down syndrome, albinism, amelia, meromelia or a physical or mental disease.

An amendment was made to the bill to make an exception for women who terminate a pregnancy in the event their fetus is diagnosed with a fatal anomaly that would result in the child dying within three months of its birth.

Sen. Dan Furphy, R-Laramie, asked if there was any disability, besides a fatal one, that would be considered reasonable for a woman to terminate a pregnancy.

“You’re making it clear in this bill there is no disability that could not be purposive of an abortion,” Furphy said.

Romero-Martinez said there might be some “gray area” situations where a child might be born, but not have any brain capacity. He said this would likely fall under a lethal fetal anomaly.

“I don’t know, I would imagine…that’s covered under that amendment,” he said. “But it’s a tricky situation.”

Sen. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, commented there are some countries that have increased genetic testing, but also have increased abortion rates in fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Mike Leman, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne, spoke in support of the bill on Tuesday.

“Enforcement will be a challenge, but at least it will allow for retroactive action and that could save lives, if it prevents even one provider from encouraging an abortion, it will have been worth it,” Leman said.

Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett, also testified in support of the bill.

“Life is precious and I struggle with the idea we even have to have this legislation and come to a point as a society where we say ‘You know what? This is worth saving and this is not worth saving,'” Neiman said.

Additionally, Wyoming Right to Life supported the bill.

Cheyenne physician and former legislator Larry Meuli spoke in opposition to the bill, however.

“I’m opposed to this bill…because of the unintended consequences of it,” Meuli said. “It bothers me the Wyoming Legislature feels like they can tell people what they can believe and how they can practice.”

Sen. Troy McKeown, R-Gillette, questioned the difference between “killing” a fetus while in the womb and killing a child at the age of 2.

Meuli countered there were many definitions of when life begins, and that he didn’t necessarily believe a fetus in the womb was a person.

Cheyenne realtor Wendy Volk also spoke in opposition of the bill, noting she had genetic testing done on a pregnancy, but added it wasn’t to decide whether or not she would terminate the pregnancy.

“I had a pregnancy at 42-years-old and there were some unusual things happenings in my pregnancy,” she said. “It was for the health and well-being of me and my pregnancy.”

With committee approval, the bill will now be sent to the Senate for a review by all senators.

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Cody Legislator: Disability-Related Abortions Step Toward Eugenics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would ban abortions conducted for “discriminatory” reasons is headed for its final review in the Wyoming House of Representatives.

House Bill 161, sponsored by Rep. John Romero-Martinez, R-Cheyenne, would ban abortions performed because the unborn child diagnosed with a disability or for the reasons of race, sex, color, national origin or ancestry.

In the bill, disabilities is defined as any disease, defect or disorder that is genetically inherited, including physical, mental and intellectual disabilities, physical disfigurement, scoliosis, dwarfism, down syndrome, albinism, amelia, meromelia or a physical or mental disease.

The bill passed through its second reading in the House on Tuesday, meaning it is likely to be up for a third reading later this week.

Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, on Tuesday offered an amendment that would require the state to reimburse pregnant women who were forced into carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term.

The program Connolly suggested in her amendment would cover all medical costs associated with the pregnancy, birth and additional educations and therapies related to a child being born with disabilities.

Her amendment, which would also require genetic testing for pregnant women, was defeated as the bill itself was approved in its second reading.

“I am confused about this bill and how it could honestly be implemented,” Connolly said during the House floor debate. “What this amendment does, it clarifies that we as a state…do not want the results of genetic testing to be used for abortion, but if a woman is obligated to carry a pregnancy to term, that we will take care of that child. That is our obligation.”

Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody, a co-sponsor of the bill, spoke in opposition to the amendment, saying it didn’t align with the bill’s intention.

“The reality is that sex-selection abortions are occurring in the United States,” she said. “Recent studies have showed that more than 90% of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Clearly, this is the chilling side to eugenics and it must be confronted there.”

Rep. Sue Wilson, R-Cheyenne, also spoke in opposition of the amendment.

“We’re not mandating that the woman has to take care of the child for the rest of its life, if she feels unable to care for the child after it is born,” she said. “We do have an existing program [like this that] Medicaid pays for.”

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Barrasso, Lummis Call For Stopping Loans to Planned Parenthood

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso have joined a number of thier colleagues in calling on federal Small Business Administration to stop giving loans to Planned Parenthood.

The senators sent a letter to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza asking her to specify that Planned Parenthood affiliates employ too many people to be eligible for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program.

“Planned Parenthood employs about 16,000 people nationwide,” the letter said. “The group’s national organization, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, jealously exercises control over local affiliates, subjecting them to uniform bylaws, accreditation, frequent reviews, and mandates about what services they must provide to remain part of the Federation, such as on-site abortion.

Planned Parenthood affiliates thus are ineligible to receive PPP loans, as part of an affiliated group that employs far more people than the number allowed for an initial or second-draw PPP loan.”

Co-signers of the letter, in addition to Barrasso and Lummis, include U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Senators sent a similar letter last year to the SBA, after Planned Parenthood organizations were awarded around $80 million. Each of Planned Parenthood’s state and local affiliates is a separate nonprofit, with its own leadership and funding organization, according to the Washington Post.

The SBA said in May that the local chapters are too closely affiliated with Planned Parenthood’s national organization to be considered independent entities. 

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Wyoming Legislature: Where they are

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Wyoming Legislature bill analysis where they are
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Here is the status of some bills making their way through the Legislature’s general session:

HB 14 — Creating the “Mountain Daylight Savings Time” zone for Wyoming. Defeated in Senate “Committee of the Whole.”

HB 38 — Raising legislative expense reimbursements from $109 per day to $149. Vetoed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

HB 52 — Giving preference to Wyoming-made products in furnishing state buildings. Awaiting governor’s signature.

HB 66 — Setting a statewide lodging tax of 5 percent. Approved in second reading in Senate.

HB 71 — Raising the penalty for violating equal pay rules to $500 per day. Signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon.

HB 140 — Imposing a 48-hour waiting period to perform abortions. No action will be taken in Senate committee before the end of session.

HB 145 — Eliminating the death penalty. Killed in Senate “Committee of the Whole.”

HB 192 — Requiring photo ID to vote. Killed on third reading in House.

HB 220 — Imposing an income tax on out-of-state companies with business locations in Wyoming. Died without review in Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.

HB 251 — Authorizing Wyoming to sue the state of Washington over it refusal to allow the construction of a coal port. Approved in second reading in Senate.

HJ 1 — Asking the federal government to delist the grizzly bear. Signed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

SF 46 — Limiting the length of a prescription of opioids to 14 days. Approved in second reading in House.SF 57 — Setting a deadline for the release of public documents by government agencies. Awaiting report of “joint conference committee” to resolve Senate, House differences.

SF 119 — Making all expenditures by the state auditor’s office public and available for review. Died without review in House Appropriations Committee.

SF 129 — Repealing requirements for reports from the state Department of Education. Awaiting governor’s signature.

SF 148 — Allowing the state to seize and operate federal facilities — including national parks — under certain conditions. Killed in House Minerals Committee.

SF 149 — Creating a “Capitol Complex” around the state Capitol and giving the state building commission authority for planning in the area. Approved in first reading in the House.

SF 160 — Requiring changes in voter party affiliation to take place two weeks before absentee ballots are distributed. Died without review by House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.

SJ 3 — Declaring Dec. 10, 2019, as Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day. Signed into law by governor.

Wyoming Legislative Week-in-Review

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Bills to repeal Wyoming’s death penalty and impose a 48-hour waiting period for abortions both died in the state’s Legislature this week, while a bill that would provide bonuses for state investment professionals who make good investments is headed to the governor’s office for his signature.

Cowboy State Daily’s Robert Geha has the rundown on the legislative winners and losers for the week.

Death penalty repeal, abortion waiting period passed as Legislature nears midway point

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By Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s legislators spent long hours on the floors of the House and Senate this week as they neared the midway point for their general session.

With a major deadline looming on Monday, legislators spent much of the week trying to get through a backlog of bills reviewed by committees and sent to the floor for debate.

One bill proposing a repeal of Wyoming’s death penalty won final approval and was sent to the Senate for its review. HB 145 would make life without the possibility of parole the harshest possible sentence in Wyoming.

Also approved in its final House review was HB 140, a bill that would impose a 48-hour waiting period on women seeking abortions. Under Wyoming law, a doctors must give a woman seeking an abortion the chance to see an ultrasound of the fetus or hear a recording of its heartbeat. The 48-hour waiting period would begin after that offer is made. The waiting period would be waived in emergencies.

A bill that would keep Wyoming on daylight savings time year-round is also headed to the Senate after its final approval in the House. The change outlined in HB 14 could only occur after three neighboring states agree to stick with daylight savings time through the year as well.

However, the House killed a bill aimed at luring film production companies to the state. HB 164 would have reimbursed production companies for some of their costs while filming in Wyoming.

Committees also killed several bills. A proposed $1 increase in taxes on a pack of cigarettes was killed by the House Revenue Committee. And the House Judiciary Committee killed HB 234, which would have made the possession of more than three ounces of marijuana a misdemeanor. That crime is now a felony.

On Monday, representatives and senators will get their last chance to review bills on “General File.” Those are the bills that have been reviewed by committees and sent back to their chambers of origin for debate by the full body. Any bill on the “General File” not reviewed by the end of business Monday will be dead for this session.

The bills approved in three readings in the chamber where they started — the House or Senate — will now head to the other chamber for a second review.

Death penalty repeal, abortion waiting period passed as Legislature nears midway point

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By Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s legislators spent long hours on the floors of the House and Senate this week as they neared the midway point for their general session.

With a major deadline looming on Monday, legislators spent much of the week trying to get through a backlog of bills reviewed by committees and sent to the floor for debate.

One bill proposing a repeal of Wyoming’s death penalty won final approval and was sent to the Senate for its review. HB 145 would make life without the possibility of parole the harshest possible sentence in Wyoming.

Also approved in its final House review was HB 140, a bill that would impose a 48-hour waiting period on women seeking abortions. Under Wyoming law, a doctors must give a woman seeking an abortion the chance to see an ultrasound of the fetus or hear a recording of its heartbeat. The 48-hour waiting period would begin after that offer is made. The waiting period would be waived in emergencies.

A bill that would keep Wyoming on daylight savings time year-round is also headed to the Senate after its final approval in the House. The change outlined in HB 14 could only occur after three neighboring states agree to stick with daylight savings time through the year as well.

However, the House killed a bill aimed at luring film production companies to the state. HB 164 would have reimbursed production companies for some of their costs while filming in Wyoming.

Committees also killed several bills. A proposed $1 increase in taxes on a pack of cigarettes was killed by the House Revenue Committee. And the House Judiciary Committee killed HB 234, which would have made the possession of more than three ounces of marijuana a misdemeanor. That crime is now a felony.

On Monday, representatives and senators will get their last chance to review bills on “General File.” Those are the bills that have been reviewed by committees and sent back to their chambers of origin for debate by the full body. Any bill on the “General File” not reviewed by the end of business Monday will be dead for this session.

The bills approved in three readings in the chamber where they started — the House or Senate — will now head to the other chamber for a second review.

In Brief: Abortion waiting period bill approved by House

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By Cowboy State Daily

A bill to impose a 48-hour waiting period on women seeking abortions won final approval in Wyoming’s House on Friday.

After extensive debate, HB 140 was sent to the Senate for its review on a vote of 36-22.

State law requires doctors to offer women seeking abortions a chance to see an ultrasound of the fetus or hear a recording of its heartbeat. Under HB 140, an abortion could not be performed until 48 hours after that offer is made.

Supporters argued it makes sense to set a waiting period before undertaking such a procedure.

“Unless it’s an emergency surgery, to go in and have an invasive surgery the very same day, that’s not health care,” said Rep. Scott Clem, R-Gillette. “That’s pure negligence.”

Opponents maintained the state should not be involved in a decision to seek an abortion.

“I want me, my husband and the doctor (involved),” said Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie. “You stay out.”

The bill would waive the waiting period in emergencies.

In Brief: Abortion waiting period bill approved in second reading

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A bill that would impose a 48-hour waiting period on abortions is headed for a third and final reading in Wyoming’s House. 

Representatives on Thursday voted to approve HB 140 in its second reading — meaning it will head for a third and final reading.Current law requires a physician asked to perform an abortion to offer the patient a chance to see an ultrasound of the fetus and hear an audio recording of its heartbeat. Under HB 140, the procedure could not be performed until 48 hours after that offer is made.

The bill would exempt emergency abortions needed to save the life of the mother from the waiting period.

Committee approves bill to put 48-hour waiting period on abortions

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Waiting room with empty chairs, ALT=abortion, clinic
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By Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would impose a 48-hour waiting period on abortions was approved by a House committee on Tuesday.

HB 140 was approved by a 6-3 vote of the House Judiciary Committee after lengthy public discussion.

The bill would require doctors to wait to perform an abortion for 48 hours after telling women seeking the procedure that they could see an ultrasound of the fetus and hear a recording of the heartbeat, if audible.

The bill now heads to the House floor for a discussion by the full body.

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