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The principal pre-Roe statutes prohibited performance of an abortion on a pregnant woman unless the procedure was “necessary to preserve her life,”1 and made a woman’s participation in her own abortion a criminal offense “except when necessary for the purpose of saving the life of the mother or the child.”2  Pursuant to Roe, the statutes were declared unconstitutional by the Wyoming Supreme Court in Doe v. Burk,3 and were later repealed.4  The repealed pre-Roe statutes would not be revived by a decision overruling Roe v. Wade.  Abortions could be performed for any reason before viability, and depending upon how the post-viability statute is interpreted, for virtually any reason thereafter.5


1 Wyo. Stat. § 6-77 (1957).

2 Id. § 6-78 (1957).  No prosecutions under reported under this statute.

3 513 P.2d 643 (Wyo. 1973).

4 1977 Wyo. Sess. Laws 11, 14, ch. 11, § 2.

5 Because Wyoming’s post-viability statute, see Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 35-6-102 (Michie 2003), does not restrict the reasons for which an abortion may be performed  after viability to reasons relating to the pregnant woman’s physical health, it probably would allow post-viability abortions for reasons of the woman’s mental health, as well.  There are few, if any, abortions that could not be justified on such grounds.  As the experience in California demonstrated, mental health exceptions were widely abused.  See People v. Barksdale, 503 P.2d 257, 265 (Cal. 1972) (noting that more than 60,000 abortions were reported in 1970, more than 98% of which were performed for alleged reasons of mental health).


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May be reprinted without permission but with attribution to the Life Legal Defense Fund.