CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A bill that would have banned abortions in Wyoming after a fetus had developed a detectable heartbeat failed Monday in a legislative committee.
The House Labor Health and Social Services on Monday voted 5-to-3 against a bill sponsored by Rep. Kendell Kroeker, R-Evansville.
Experts say that the bill would have banned abortions after about the sixth week of pregnancy. Abortions currently are available to women in the state until about the 19th week.
The proposal brought more than two hours of frequently emotional testimony from both supporters and opponents.
Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Recluse, told the committee that she decided to have an abortion after her first marriage dissolved. She said she faced the prospect of losing custody of her three children if she underwent what promised to be a difficult pregnancy.
"The notion that protected human life begins at the moment of conception is some religious sects' interpretation, certainly not mine," Wallis said.
No other person, not even a woman's husband, has a right to dictate to a woman what she does with her body, Wallis said. "That is a fundamental tenant of freedom."
Maggie Moran, president of a student group called "Speak Out" at the University of Wyoming, warned that the bill was extreme and would outlaw all abortions. "This bill is catering to a very small group of extremists in this state," she said.
Rep. Mary Throne, D-Cheyenne, said she was concerned that the bill was unconstitutionally vague. Throne, a lawyer, noted that the bill would impose up to a 14-year prison sentence on anyone who performed abortions after the fetus' heartbeat was detectable, but noted that particular moment could vary depending on what sort of medical equipment was used.