Abortion access and family planning services are under attack across the country – and right here in Wyoming. In March, the legislature passed the state’s first restrictions on abortion in 28 years. While they may not have many practical effects on a woman’s access to reproductive healthcare in our state, the passage of these bills could signal a new front in the fight against abortion in the Equality State.
What happened in 2017
Four different bills were introduced this year relating directly to abortion, and one additional bill was introduced which would have make pregnant mothers criminals, just for having a drug addiction. To make things worse, when two of the bills got to the Senate, they weren’t even given a hearing by the proper committee. In a move to ensure the bills passed into the floor, Senate leadership sent the bills to the Senate Agriculture Committee, which begs the question: when did women’s health become an agricultural issue?
Three of the five bills – including the terrible criminalization bill – died, but the two heard by the Ag Committee passed. HB 116, regulation the donation of fetal tissue; and HB 182, requiring the offer of an ultrasound, passed both houses. Dr. Brent Blue, who performs abortions at his clinic in Jackson and has been targeted by national anti-abortion organizations, says the bills won’t decrease the number of abortions in Wyoming.
What you can do about it
Know the votes: NARAL Pro-Choice Wyoming has published all the sponsors and the votes of each anti-abortion, anti-women’s health bill here. The single best way to maintain access to women’s healthcare is to keep our legislators accountable for their votes, and to be ready to change their minds when the next bills come up in 2018.
Support women who have had abortions: The stigma around having an abortion is real, and it can be a hard barrier to overcome. But the more we talk about it, and the more we support women who have had abortions, the better off we will be. You can start now by sharing this blog post and talking about abortion access with those closest to you.
Get ready for 2018: It is likely there will be more anti-choice bills introduced in the 2018 legislature. Make sure you are signed up for email alerts through the ACLU and NARAL of Wyoming. Follow us on Facebook. Read up on abortion issues (some great links and resources are below). And don’t wait until the legislative session to talk to your legislators. You can contact them any time. Send an email, or better yet, give them a call and invite them out for a cup of coffee or lemonade and talk to them directly about why access to abortion is essential for Wyomingites.
2016 Supreme Court case upholding Roe v. Wade: https://www.aclusd.org/en/news/victory-women-scotus-protects-abortion-access
State facts on abortion in Wyoming: https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/state-facts-about-abortion-wyoming
The Roe v. Wade era and assessing our rights at 25 years: https://www.aclu.org/other/right-choose-25-looking-back-and-ahead?redirect=reproductive-freedom/right-choose-25-looking-back-and-ahead