By Maya Shimizu Harris
Casper Star-Tribune Via Wyoming News Exchange 

AG authorizes trigger law's use


July 21, 2022

CASPER — Attorney General Bridget Hill notified Gov. Mark Gordon on Thursday that Wyoming’s trigger abortion ban “would be fully authorized” under the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade last month.

That clears the way for Gordon to enact the ban. It is unknown when he will do so.

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

After Roe’s reversal, there was much speculation about when Wyoming’s ban would actually take effect. Hill’s report to Gordon is the first clarifying information on that timeline.

Wyoming passed the abortion trigger ban this spring during the legislative session, and Gordon signed it into law.

It was triggered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs V. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last month, after which the attorney general had 30 days to review the high court ruling.

Under the law, the governor has five days to enact the ban after the attorney general’s review.

The ban will make nearly all abortions illegal, except in cases involving rape or incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger. Some legislators hope to delete those exceptions in the next session.

Providers who perform abortions despite the ban could face a felony charge and up to 14 years in prison.

According to a report from the Wyoming Department of Health, there were 91 abortions performed by Wyoming providers in 2020. There’s only one Wyoming clinic, the Women’s Health Center and Family Care Clinic in Jackson, that currently offers abortions. The doctors there have said that they will continue to offer them until the ban is in place.

It’s unlikely that the clinic will continue to offer abortions under the trigger law’s exemptions because of potential legal risks.

Another clinic in Casper was set to open this summer, although that timeline has been pushed back after someone attempted to set fire to it in May.

The clinic’s founder, Julie Burkhart, said in a press conference on the day of Roe’s reversal that she was reviewing with legal counsel whether or not it would be possible to offer abortions under the law’s exemptions.

Burkhart said in the same press conference that she was considering legal action to stop Wyoming’s trigger ban.

A spokesperson said that any potential legal action would take place once the state makes a move to certify the ban.

A lawsuit could temporarily block the abortion ban, as it has in states like Utah.

Most of the states surrounding Wyoming have abortion bans on the books, although some of them haven’t taken effect or have been blocked temporarily.

The Monday after Roe’s reversal, the Women’s Health Center and Family Care Clinic in Jackson got a flood of appointment requests from people in Utah, where the trigger ban had already taken effect. Those calls subsided after a lawsuit blocked the ban there.

The only neighboring states where abortion is expected to remain legal are Montana and Colorado.

Planned Parenthood of Montana recently stopped giving medication abortions to out-of-state patients coming from places with current abortion bans. About 8% of abortion patients at Planned Parenthood of Montana clinics last year came from Wyoming, Planned Parenthood of Montana CEO Martha Fuller previously told the Star-Tribune.

This story was posted on July 22, 2022.


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