Wyoming, Obamacare, and Abortion Bans

On March 28 2023 a Reddit user shared an image-based post, which contained a claim that a proposed abortion ban in Wyoming was “blocked due to [an] Obamacare-era amendment”:

The post was published to r/LeopardsAteMyFace, a subreddit to discuss instances in which people are upset or sad because, in its description’s words, “they’re suffering consequences from something they voted for or supported or wanted to impose on other people.” “Leopards ate my face” quickly became social media shorthand when it appeared in a viral tweet:

Fact Check

Claim: In March 2023, a Wyoming judge blocked an abortion ban because of an amendment drafted in response to Obamacare.

Description: A Reddit post claimed that an abortion ban proposed in Wyoming was thwarted because of an amendment that was added to the state’s constitution in an effort to undermine the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in 2012. This amendment allowed competent adults to make their own healthcare decisions.


Rating Explanation: Various sources, including Reddit, CNBC, and The New York Times, have reported on the Judge’s decision to block the abortion ban, citing the 2012 amendment. This indicates that the claim made on Reddit is accurate.

Every post to Reddit’s r/LeopardsAteMyFace receives a pinned reply from the subreddit’s AutoModerator, tagging its submitter and directing them to explain “who is suffering from which consequences.” In a threaded comment, submitter (u/BrexitBlaze) fulfilled the request, explaining:

Wyoming didn’t like Obama’s Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) and decide to change their constitution to undermine Obamacare. The change added in a line that said “each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own health care decisions.”

Now in 2023, Wyoming wanted to implement an abortion ban. A judge threw this case out because Wyoming were not able to implement the ban because….. yeah that’s right, because of the above sentence the state added to undermine Obamacare.

Further reading can be found here. [Link.]

In the comment, u/BrexitBlaze linked to a March 24 2023 news article published by the finance-focused outlet CNBC. It was prefaced with three “Key Points,” one of which attributed the outcome to a 2012 amendment to Wyoming’s state constitution:

  • Abortion is legal in Wyoming again, oddly enough as the result of a state constitutional amendment pushed by conservatives opposed to Obamacare more than a decade ago.
  • Teton County District Court Judge Melissa Owens temporarily blocked enforcement of the state’s newly enacted abortion ban that took effect Sunday [March 19 2023].
  • Owens’ decision pointed to a 2012 amendment to the state constitution that intended to protect them from hypothetical harms contained in then-President Barack Obama’s signature health law, the Affordable Care Act.

CNBC linked to a March 22 2023 New York Times article, “Wyoming Judge Temporarily Blocks the State’s New Abortion Ban.” It began:

Abortion will remain legal in Wyoming — at least temporarily — after a judge on Wednesday [March 22 2023] ordered that a newly enacted ban be blocked until further court proceedings in a lawsuit challenging it.

After a three-hour hearing, Judge Melissa Owens of Teton County District Court granted a temporary restraining order, pausing a law that took effect Sunday [March 19 2023]. The law would make providing almost all abortions a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.


A central issue is whether Wyoming’s Constitution allows the legislature to ban nearly all abortions, when the Constitution includes an amendment that guarantees adults the right to make their own health care decisions. An overwhelming majority of Wyoming citizens voted for the amendment in 2012.

A March 22 2023 Associated Press article provided details about the Affordable Care Act-era amendment, and how it conflicted with the proposed “abortion ban”:

An amendment in the Wyoming Constitution [from 2012] says adults have a right to make their own health care decisions, so Republicans enacted a ban that states abortion is not health care.

However, [Judge Melissa] Owens said it’s up to the courts, not lawmakers, to decide whether that’s the case.

“The state can not legislate away a constitutional right. It’s not clear whether abortion is health care. The court has to then decide that,” Owens said in an oral decision given at the end of an hourslong hearing.

A popular March 2023 post to Reddit’s r/LeopardsAteMyFace asserted that a proposed “abortion ban” in Wyoming was “blocked” due to an “Obamacare-era amendment” added to the state’s constitution in 2012. Several organizations covered hearings and decisions around the proposed legislation in Wyoming, and confirmed that Judge Melissa Owens cited the 2012 amendment in her ruling.