Wyoming Governor’s Actions Ignite Controversy on Abortion and Transgender Issues

The Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon
The Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon. Credit | AP Photo

United States – Wyoming Governor on Friday vetoed a bill that would have put many obstacles to abortion, which should remain lawful in the state, and signed a bill that would restrict gender based affirming care for children.

Abortion Obstacles Vetoed

Mark Gordon, a Republican governor who is against abortion, has vetoed a bill that would require outpatient surgical facilities providing abortions to be licensed just like the ones for surgical operations, thus increasing both costs and the amount of work to operate, as reported by NBC News.

Women would have to have had ultrasounds for at least the past 48 hours to be certain of the fetus’s gestational age, fetal position, and viability of the pregnancy.

Court Challenges and Legislative Dynamics

Abortion is legal currently in Wyoming pending making the decision to be subject to a lawsuit presented by new laws that would ban it altogether. The purpose of this bill was the closure of the single abortion clinic in the state, Wellspring Health Access. The Casper facility opened in 2023 – formally, months later than expected, after being damaged in an arson attack by a woman who was anti-abortion.

Gordon stated in the signing ceremony that the bill would have “properly regulated” clinics. However, he added that senators’ amendments made it prone to lawsuit filings.

“The state is closer than ever to a decision on the constitutionality of abortion in Wyoming,” Gordon said in a statement, adding that the bill “had the potential to further delay the resolution of this critical issue for the unborn.”

The majority of abortions done at Wellspring are through pills, while the rest have been recently done through surgical methods, thanks to the clinic’s officials who are for this bill.

The measure would have demanded that abortions only be executed in a licensed physician’s office that is 10 miles away, which has admitted privileges at a hospital.

Hospitalization and creating two ambulatory surgical facilities that would require both new costs to renovate the clinic and getting doctors “medically unnecessary” admitting privileges is a wrong decision. Women, in addition to the ultrasound payment, gained additional travel and time-off-work expenses, as Burkhart added.

She claimed that her bill was meant to close down the clinic, which would further not help people who need abortion services.

“Outlawing abortion will never serve as a vehicle for making this health care obsolete,” she said.

Last legislative session, the Wyoming State Legislature passed—and the Governor signed into law—immigration-related policies, including the nation’s first-ever outright ban on abortion pills. Melissa Owens, District Judge in Teton County Jackson, has stayed off the statutes so that she could hear cases challenging them brought by Wellspring and others.

At a hearing in December, Owens indicated that she was likely to issue a ruling bypassing a trial of the case. While she did that on Monday, she forwarded all big questions concerning the case directly to the state Supreme Court to consider instead.

Owens appears to understand the reasons why pro-choice people in Wyoming stand. She has indicated her views that the regulations would most likely be in favor of them; for instance, the amendment from 2012 includes the notion that competent adult people have the freedom of health care decisions.

Attorneys for Wyoming posit that the measure, passed in reaction to the Affordable Care Act initiative by the federal government, was never supposed to extend to abortion.

This year’s abortion bill in Wyoming was put on a higher level to be even presented for debate in the recently concluded Legislative Session, which ended March 8. Bills of the four-week session that are unrelated to the budget require the mention of a two-thirds vote for their introduction.

“Those of us who stand for legislation like this, we know deep down that life has meaning beyond this floor,” Sen. Dan Dockstader, a Republican from Afton, had pointed out during the public debate before the bill was passed by the Senate with a 24-6 vote on March 1.

The bill that had the final approval by the state house resulted in a 53-9 vote.

While Gordon rejects the bill of abortion, he gives the law into effect, which is stated as Wyoming’s latest regulation that bans gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. This is on the grounds of protecting the minors. He indeed asserted that while he himself favors this kind of law, he also regards the government’s interference in family life as a violation of parents’ rights.

National Trend and Legal Battles

In at least 24 states, legislatures pass laws to limit or stop gender-affirmed health care for minors, and half of those states take them to court. A federal judge ruled that the Arkansas ban be eliminated as unconstitutional. In Idaho and Montana, judges’ orders are there temporarily stopping the arrest of those who violate the ban on vaccines, as reported by NBC News.

Parental Rights Legislation

Wyoming lawmakers also enacted laws affecting parental rights in education. Gordon noted that the legislature needs to “sort out its intentions” regarding the law regarding parents’ rights.