- Dec 1, 2020
In many states, opponents of Obamacare effectively took the GOP’s talking points and turned them into state constitutional amendments protecting patients’ ability to obtain health care that the government might not want them to have. Wyoming’s amendment, for example, provides that “each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own health care decisions.”
Regardless of the political circumstances that led to this amendment being written into the state constitution, Owens reasoned that the amendment “unambiguously provides competent Wyoming citizens with the right to make their own health care decisions,” and she was bound by that unambiguous text. “A court,” she wrote, “is not at liberty to assume that the Wyoming voters who adopted” the amendment “did not understand the force of language in the provision.”
Just as significantly, Owens construed the amendment to give people in Wyoming a “fundamental right” to make their own health care decisions, including the decision to seek an abortion. This designation matters because fundamental rights can only be abridged when the state seeks to advance a “compelling state interest” and when it uses the “least intrusive” means to do so.
Ties your own hands - well done Wyoming!