CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers are facing bills this session that would restrict access to abortion services.
Meanwhile, a group is capitalizing on the legal victory it won against the state last year that allows it to display an anti-abortion poster in a tunnel leading to the state Capitol.
The anti-abortion bills aren't set for a hearing until late in January but abortion rights groups already are gearing up for a fight. Similar bills have been defeated in recent legislative sessions but have sparked contentious debate.
One pending bill, sponsored by Rep. Kendell Kroeker, R-Evansville, would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is audible. He said Tuesday his bill would effectively bar abortions after the first six weeks of pregnancy.
A similar "heartbeat" bill is pending in Mississippi and one was defeated last year in Ohio.
Although the federal courts have ruled in favor of the right to abortion, Kroeker said he believes his bill is constitutional.
"Our country was founded on the principle that everybody has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," Kroeker said. "That was in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. But I believe it is just protecting the life and liberty of the unborn."
Another bill, sponsored by Sen. Leslie Nutting, R-Cheyenne, would require a doctor performing an abortion to get signed confirmation from the woman that she had been given an opportunity to view an ultrasound of the unborn fetus and to listen to its heartbeat.
Sharon Breitweiser, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wyoming, an abortion rights group in Laramie, said Tuesday that Kroeker's bill would amount to a severe restriction on abortion services in the state. She said women now may receive abortions through the second trimester, or about the 19th week, of pregnancy.
"The Supreme Court has said that the state, during the first trimester, basically can't restrict," Breitweiser said. "This is an outright ban on abortion obviously very early in pregnancy."
Breitweiser said she expects the state would incur legal costs in an unsuccessful effort to defend the measure if it becomes law.