Abortion Laws: In Wyoming, Government Takes a Libertarian and Hands Off Approach

Anti-abortion activists and government entities in Wyoming have been at each other’s throats for the last several years.

Last year, Texas-based anti-abortion group Operation Save America wanted to demonstrate in Jackson Hole’s town square during a Boy Scout antler auction, but the town council wouldn’t let them. The group sued the town in Wyoming Supreme Court and won. On the heels of Operation Save America’s legal victory in April, Jackson Hole has apparently become demonstration central.

This year, in early May, Wisconsin-based Missionaries for the Pre-Born staged a demonstration complete with signs “too graphic to show on television or online.” In reaction, a group of Jackson Hole citizens organized the group Jackson Hole United who took it upon themselves to warn passers-by about the protest they were about to pass. The next week, Operation Save America was back, and so was Jackson Hole United. 

And in April, anti-abortion group WyWatch Family Action sued the state for “removing a display of materials it posted in a tunnel leading to the state Capitol last year.” The state settled, paying a whopping $1 in damages and $30,000 in fees. “The State Building Commission, made up of the state's five statewide elected officials, this year banned all outside groups from displaying materials in the tunnel.”

In the 2011 legislative session, Wyoming lawmakers did not pass bills which would have limited a woman’s access to reproductive health care. In January of 2011, a bill to require doctors to offer an ultrasound and tell women that fetuses over a certain stage of development could feel pain died. A month later, the House re-considered a newer version of the bill, one that would again require the doctors offer an ultrasound and require a 24-hour waiting period. This bill then failed in the Wyoming Senate.

Wyoming’s legislature is Republican dominated, but Wyoming Republicans are almost exclusively small-government Republicans and reject the social conservativism of the GOP. Wyoming currently requires parental notification and consent and limits public funding.

Editor's Note: With 10 days left until the presidential election, PolicyMic's Audrey Farber will be posting a daily update on the state of abortion rights in the U.S., covering legislative challenges to Roe v. Wade in all 50 states. So far, we've gotten updates on: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana ,Arkansas, Missouri, KentuckyMinnesotaIllinoisIowaMississippiMichigan, Indiana, Alabama, OhioFloridaGeorgiaD.C.South CarolinaNorth CarolinaVirginia and MarylandPennsylvaniaDelawareNew JerseyNew YorkWisconsinConnecticutVermont,  Massachusetts & Rhode IslandMaine & New Hampshire. Check back in every day to keep track!