Wyoming Supreme Court declines to rule on state’s preborn protections law


The Wyoming Supreme Court issued a ruling last week in which it declined to take up a lawsuit challenging the state’s law protecting preborn children from abortion. The court’s decision sends the case back to a district court and keeps abortion legal in the state for now.

The state’s law protects most preborn children from abortion, restricting all abortions except in cases of rape or incest or for medical emergencies (though abortion is never medically necessary). However, the law had been on hold — and abortions in the state continued — after District Court Judge Melissa Owens issued a preliminary injunction against the law in August. That injunction followed a lawsuit from a pro-abortion coalition that argued that the law violates the state constitution.

“The statute restricts a woman’s right to make their own health care decisions during pregnancy and discriminates against women on the basis of their sex,” wrote Owens in her August ruling. “The statute dilutes the rights available to women in making decisions regarding their health care and whether or not to give birth to a child.”

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In November, Owens ordered that the lawsuit be advanced to the state Supreme Court so that the court could consider 12 questions related to the law’s constitutionality. Ten of the questions asked the court to determine if the law violated provisions of the state constitution, while the other two asked the court to decide if the law violated citizens’ right to privacy, and whether it was constitutionally vague.

“After a careful review of the Certification Order, this Court finds it should decline to answer the certified questions,” the justices stated in a notice filed on December 20. “This Court does not believe it can answer all twelve certified questions on the limited factual record provided.”

Though the Supreme Court declined to determine at this time whether or not the preborn protection law violates the state’s constitution, there is the possibility that it may hear the case in the future. According to Cowboy State Daily, the district court will likely have a trial to determine the law’s constitutionality, but either party could appeal after that ruling.

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