Wyoming’s Medication Abortion Ban Faces Legal Challenge
Wyoming’s ban on medication abortions, which is set to take effect on July 1, is facing a legal challenge from a group that is suing the state. The plaintiffs, who are seeking a temporary restraining order against the law, were met with a rebuttal from the defendants, which include Wyoming’s governor and attorney general, who argued that the plaintiffs failed to provide adequate legal analysis and that their testimony was not legally relevant. The defendants also reasserted a central argument from the ongoing defense of the state’s near-total abortion ban — that abortion is not healthcare and therefore is not subject to Article 1, Section 38 of the Wyoming Constitution, which states that each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own healthcare decisions.
However, Ninth District Court Judge Melissa Owens, who is presiding over the case, has already expressed skepticism of that reasoning. She stated that “the Court cannot find that a procedure that requires medical expertise, the prescription of medications and drugs, the use of reasonable medical judgment, which must also include medical opinions on the health of the pregnant woman and the fetus, is not a healthcare procedure.”
Wyoming is the first state to pass a ban on medication abortions, which does not specify the names of medications but states that “it shall be unlawful to prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion on any person.” The state’s other near-total ban is already under a restraining order, which went into effect in March.
The plaintiffs argue that, similar to the near-total ban, the medication ban would strip those seeking abortions of their constitutional right to make a healthcare decision, citing the Wyoming Constitution. However, the defense argues that Judge Owens should take the history and intent behind Article 1, Section 38 into consideration if the language is ambiguous, or may do so even if she finds the meaning of the law to be clear. That intent, the filing states, was to contradict federal mandates in the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
The lawmakers and voters made it clear that they were rebuking federal lawmakers and the ACA with the passage of their constitutional amendment in 2012, defendants argue. To back its claim that voters understood this intent, the defendants cited a Secretary of State voter’s guide, a statement by a constitutional expert, and language in newspapers. However, the language on the ballot doesn’t mention the federal government or the ACA.
Even if the court finds that abortion is healthcare, the defendants argue that there are still several reasons not to issue a temporary restraining order. Section 38, for example, doesn’t give patients the right to access certain kinds of healthcare, they state. “As consumers of medical services, patients have no direct role in determining what medical services legally are available,” the filing states. Instead, defendants argue that the legislature has the constitutional right to determine “reasonable and necessary restrictions” to individuals’ healthcare decisions.
If abortion is considered healthcare, defendants also argue that a woman’s decision to abort a pregnancy is not solely her own but also one that potentially affects a viable fetus. Defendants cite provisions under the state’s abortion bans to defend this view, including legal protections that would be provided to the unborn if these bans were to go into effect. The state’s arguments went on to include that plaintiffs wouldn’t face direct or imminent injuries if the law were to go into effect, the legislature’s creation of the law was necessary and reasonable, and that the law wouldn’t restrict rights in all circumstances.
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News Source : Madelyn Beck
Source Link :Wyoming governor, AG rebut call for halt on medication abortion ban/