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Legislature Considers 48 Hour Waiting Period For Abortion

layout by Tennessee Watson

A bill restricting women's access to abortion received initial approval Tuesday from the House Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 140 requires a woman seeking an abortion to first meet with a provider and then wait 48 hours before terminating her pregnancy.

The bill was introduced by Sheridan Representative Richard Tass. He told the committee that unlike a clothing purchase, women can't change their minds about an abortion. He said the bill gives women time to consider the gravity of the decision.

During public testimony, Sabrina King, the policy director with the ACLU of Wyoming, questioned the need to legislate a private interaction between a woman and her doctor.

"For the state to come in and say 'you have to wait 48 hours regardless,' really is overreach on the part of the government," said Kind.

She also said women give thought to the matter before scheduling the appointment.

Wyoming resident Kathleen Peterson told the committee that Wyoming only has one or two providers, so women often have to travel to receive services. She said traveling for services and then having to wait would place an undue burden on women with fewer resources.

"So they have to pay for hotel rooms, gas, meals, [and] they have to find care for their children if they have children," said Peterson. "So it really does hurt those women who do not have the means."

The one-page bill refers to non-emergency abortions and does not distinguish between medical or surgical procedures. It passed 6 to 3, and will now be considered by the full house.

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
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