Wyoming and Utah are two battleground states in the fierce fight for life. Last week, both states passed laws that strengthen protections for unborn children, with some notable exceptions:
On March 16, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed HB 467, which will prohibit most free-standing abortion mills, like those typically operated by Planned Parenthood. Unfortunately, abortions can still be committed in hospital settings and in abortion clinics that meet certain licensing requirements. Physicians’ offices and health clinics operated by “any recognized church” are exempt from the law’s provisions.
The Satanic Temple recently opened a facility for “religious abortion rituals” in New Mexico and is planning to open similar abortion mills in states where abortion is restricted. The abortion ritual involves the mother reciting an “affirmation” that reads, “By my body, my blood. By my will, it is done.” The IRS recognized the Satanic Temple as a tax-exempt religious organization in 2019.
Abortions in Utah are currently legal through 18 weeks of pregnancy. However, abortions can be committed throughout all nine months of pregnancy in cases of rape, incest, or if the baby has a condition deemed by a physician to be “incompatible with life.”
On March 17, Wyoming lawmakers passed the “Life is a Human Right Act” (HB 152), which prohibits both surgical and chemical abortion. The law affirms a constitutional right to life for unborn babies and imposes civil and criminal penalties on those who perform surgical abortions or provide abortion pills. Women seeking abortion, or who have already obtained an abortion, are exempt from the provisions of HB 152.
Enforcement of the Act was temporarily blocked by District Court Judge Melissa Owens yesterday (March 22), pending further hearings. Owens also suspended Wyoming’s “trigger” law that would have restricted abortion following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last June.
Also on March 17, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed another law (SF 109) that would make it a misdemeanor to “prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion on any person.” The law does not apply to women “upon whom a chemical abortion is performed or attempted.”
Wyoming’s chemical abortion law is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2023, but has already been challenged by the state’s sole abortion mill, Wellspring Health Access, which advertises abortions to 24 weeks.
Life Legal is keeping a close eye on the shifting pro-life legal landscape following Dobbs. We are currently involved in litigation to protect pro-life laws and to challenge unconstitutional threats to human life in several states. We are also expanding our strategic initiatives to stop the aggressive assault on children in the womb in states like Minnesota, California, and Ohio.