Wyoming judge blocks state abortion ban, citing anti-ObamaCare amendment pushed by conservatives

Abortion rights protest in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
(Image credit: Natalie Behring/Getty Images)

A judge in Jackson, Wyoming, on Wednesday temporarily blocked a state abortion ban that took effect Sunday, saying it ran afoul of a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2012 that guarantees "each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own health care decisions." Anti-abortion lawmakers had declared in the new law that abortion is not health care, in an attempt to get around the amendment, which the same jurist, Teton County Judge Melissa Owens, had cited in blocking a previous abortion ban last August.

Owens said the state Legislature was overstepping its authority. "Wyomingites voted into law that they have a fundamental right to make their own health care decisions," with potential "necessary and reasonable restrictions" that put "no undue government infringement upon those rights," Owens said Wednesday. "The Legislature declaring that abortion is not health care takes away from the duty of this court to decide constitutional questions of law, and that violates the separation of powers." The state, she added, "cannot legislate away a constitutional right."

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.