A decision is expected soon on Wyoming’s trigger bill pause extension

The Second Teton County District Court hearing happened Tuesday to determine whether Wyoming will extend the restrictive injunction order
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 10:46 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2022 at 9:54 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) UPDATE: The order granting the motion for a preliminary injunction was granted Wednesday, Aug. 10, around noon. The temporary restraining order has become an injunction, which means the pause is now a stay, giving the plaintiffs the time to build a case to argue the merits of how Wyoming’s Abortion Trigger Ban House Bill 92 is unconstitutional under Wyoming Law. They will reconvene on Aug. 24 for a conference.

The Wyoming abortion trigger bill debate continued Tuesday.

Teton District Judge Melissa Owens listened to arguments about whether to continue the restraining order on Wyoming’s abortion ban.

Almost two weeks after granting a temporary restraining order (TRO) to block Wyoming’s abortion ban, a Teton County District Judge heard arguments for and against continuing the pause.

The plaintiffs, which consist of a mother, 2 doctors, Chelsea’s Fund and Wellspring health care access and others, argued the trigger bill would violate gender discrimination laws, Wyoming women’s Fifth Amendment rights and HIPPA privacy.

They say it would require women to divulge medical information to law enforcement to stop them from being prosecuted in cases of miscarriage, rape, or incest to prove exemptions.

The plaintiffs also stated that doctors report that 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage and would place those patients in harm’s way if the ban allowed.

The council said doctors work under the ethical rules of their Hippocratic oath to provide appropriate care to their patients first.

Furthermore, they claim this bill would have a chilling effect on Wyoming doctors for fear of litigation, and the ban would first pit physicians against patients.

Plaintiffs’ Attorney John Robinson argued that the Wyoming Constitution provides greater personal protection and freedoms than the Federal Constitution.

Historically the state constitution has an umbrella principle of the “right to be left alone” and a “protection of property” and that a woman’s body falls under her private property and her equal right to protect, not the state’s.

According to the plaintiffs, these principles would be violated by this new bill.

Robinson goes on to state that the constitution is a grant of power, not a limitation of rights, nor is it a grant of rights. Those are natural and inherent. But it is the people that give the government the power to legislate, and that power is limited.

The defense for the State of Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon, district attorney Bridget Hill and others argued that Article 1 Section 36 says that all rights will not be enumerated under the Wyoming State Constitution. That does not grant the fundamental “right” to have an abortion under section 38.

They continued that fundamental rights must fall in line with the history and tradition of the culture and country.

Under Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the defense argued that the court case made it clear abortion was not a fundamental right; therefore, section 36 negates section 38′s power as a valid argument.

The council also said the right to be left alone argument does not guarantee the right to abortion, nor does it fall under equal protection.

The defense argued Article 1 Section 38 of the Wyoming Constitution was written in 2012 to push back against the Affordable Cares Act and was not a means to describe abortion as a right under medical care.

The defense also argued that the health care “rights” under the Wyoming Constitution apply to legal services, which do not include abortion under the new trigger law.

Jerde also argued that the bill doesn’t align with any singular religious view and that any similarities are just a coincidence, not a violation of the rights of free exercise.

The defense also argued that the plaintiffs needed to prove the bill would cause “probable” irreparable harm and not just the possibility of harm.

The judge listened to both sides over the two-hour lengthy hearing and will decide by Wednesday noon.

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