A judge has blocked a Wyoming law from taking effect that would ban most abortions in the state while a lawsuit challenging the legislation is adjudicated.
Teton County District Judge Melissa Owens issued the injunction on Wednesday, arguing that it is not “a case about the moral propriety of Wyoming’s restrictions” but if the law is “constitutional under Wyoming law.” The ruling comes as a previous order blocking the law from taking effect expired.
The state government could appeal the preliminary injunction to the Wyoming Supreme Court; otherwise, it will remain in effect until the litigation has been resolved.
Dr. Giovannina Anthony, who works at the lone abortion clinic in the state, argued before the court that the ban was too vague in what abortions were and were not allowed.
“That vagueness creates uncertainty, especially in pregnancies that are desired but complicated,” claimed Anthony, as quoted by The Star Tribune.
“The legal quagmire created by the abortion ban was really terrifying as a provider, to be sure you’re providing evidence-based care without breaking the law.”
Special Assistant Attorney General Jay Jerde, arguing in defense of the ban, said that the “issue at the heart of this case is whether the Wyoming constitution confers a right to abortion.”
“The answer to that is no, either implicitly or explicitly. Abortion is not a fundamental right, we know that from Dobbs,” he said, referencing the U.S. Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson.
In March, Gov. Mark Gordon signed House Bill 92 into law, which was a trigger measure that would ban most abortions if the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade.
The state abortion ban included exemptions for rape, incest and life-threatening medical emergency for the mother, and overwhelmingly passed both houses of the state legislature.
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe via the Dobbs decision in June, Gordon certified HB 92 and said last month that the state abortion ban would soon take effect.
“I believe that the decision to regulate abortion is properly left to the states. As a pro-life Governor, my focus will continue to be on ensuring we are doing all we can to support mothers, children and families,” he tweeted in July.
Before the ban could take effect, however, a group of plaintiffs, including an abortion provider and a pregnant woman, filed suit against the state.
In late July, Owens issued a temporary restraining order from the bench against the law on the very day that the ban was scheduled to take effect.