Two women stand in front of a booth with flyers
Marcie Kindred (left) and Maggie Hunt (right) table for Wyoming United for Freedom at the Reproductive Rights Summit in Lander on June 22, 2024. (Madelyn Beck/Pedrodiniz)
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In the two years since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion-rights advocates in Wyoming have been on the defensive.

After Roe’s fall, the Wyoming Legislature’s near-total “trigger” ban was set to go into effect, though it stalled in court. The very next year, it was replaced by another near-total ban and an additional prohibition on abortion-inducing medications. And in March, the statehouse passed a bill mandating ultrasounds for women seeking the procedure and effectively regulating facilities offering abortions out of business.

The bans are now on hold as the courts consider their constitutionality, and Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed the clinic-regulation and ultrasound bill. Given the rightward drift of the statehouse, however, Wyoming is likely to see more attempts at limiting — or eliminating — access to abortion here.

Amid that reality, abortion-rights advocates have set about building a new organization intended to push back against the wave of new restrictions. Wyoming United for Freedom seeks to defend against what its organizers view as aggressive anti-abortion legislation. It’s intended to act as a grassroots hub for abortion rights in Wyoming, supporting and amplifying work that’s already being done by existing groups here. 

Wyoming United will serve as a “coalition building apparatus, able to unify the messaging of all folks doing this in Wyoming,” explained the group’s field communications director and first paid employee, Cheyenne resident Marcie Kindred. Collaborators could include large existing organizations like Pro-Choice Wyoming and Chelsea’s Fund or even small-town book clubs that support abortion access.

“​​What we wanted was a place for all the folks that have been ignited since the Dobbs decision,” she said, referring to the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe. “People are like, ‘I want to do something, what can I do?’ And we needed a place that could give them things to do, whether that's knocking on doors, whether that's collecting stories to bring to the Legislature.”

Forming the group took time. It came together in December — more than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court revoked the constitutional right to abortion. Since then, Kindred said the nascent organization has raised more than $250,000 — almost all of it from Wyoming-based donors. In the month since she’s been hired, Kindred said they’ve also signed up about 1,000 volunteers.

The group intends to touch every corner of the state while also concentrating efforts in a few key areas, including Cody, Riverton, Lander, Casper, Cheyenne, Buffalo and Sheridan. People in those communities may be getting knocks at their doors, and seeing more ads and other visible efforts to promote abortion access ahead of — and after — the Aug. 20 primary election.

A group holds signs denouncing the fall of Roe
People gather in Cheyenne to protest the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and with it the constitutional right to abortion. (Mike Vanata/Pedrodiniz)

A collaborative effort

Wyoming United for Freedom was founded, in part, by people involved with Wyoming’s other abortion access organizations, explained Maggie Hunt, president of the new group.

“We started meeting exactly a year ago,” Hunt said. “A group of us from Pro-Choice Wyoming, from Chelsea's Fund, [and] I used to be on the board of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains until last fall.”

Christine Lichtenfels, executive director of Chelsea’s Fund, an organization that works to help residents access abortion, is listed as director of the new outfit as well.

While there were lengthy discussions on how best to fight for access, the group agreed that something needed to be done, Hunt said.

“It's not the government's business to be in our doctor's office, or interfering in women's reproductive health and decisions,” she said. “We're losing young people, we're losing doctors.”

Still, Wyoming is one of the nation’s most politically conservative states, and many here advocate for restricting — or eliminating entirely — access to abortion. Among them is Marti Halverson, a former Republican lawmaker and executive director for the statewide anti-abortion group Wyoming Right to Life.

In contrast to Wyoming United for Freedom, Halverson’s group doesn’t fundraise for operations, she said.

Local chapters may raise money for billboards or events, Halverson added, but not at the state level. The last time Wyoming Right to Life solicited donations, she recalled, they garnered about $3,000 to help the organization’s efforts to intervene in the case over Wyoming’s two abortion bans.

Anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers raise money mainly through donations at annual banquets, Halverson said.

Marti Halverson stands outside before a snowy, windy Wyoming landscape
Longtime Star Valley resident Marti Halverson poses at her home in May 2023. (Mike KoshmrlPedrodiniz)

Sharing stories

At the Reproductive Rights Summit held in Lander last month, Kindred posted up behind one of a handful of tables for pro-choice organizations. The pro-access groups lined the seating areas stocked with information, swag and sign-up lists.

Kindred is a real estate agent by trade, but she’s decided to put that on the back burner, at least through the election, to focus on her work related to abortion access.

She remembers the first time she talked to her mom about abortion. She was around 9 years old.

“What is an abortion?” she recalls asking. “When somebody ends a pregnancy, why would they do that?”

Her mom noted there were many reasons a woman might want an abortion, including health concerns and not feeling that they’re ready to be a parent. She then asked her mom what their Mormon faith said.

“And she said that we believe in free agency and that we are not here to judge, and anybody’s choice is between them and God,” Kindred remembered. “Women have always had abortions, and if someone chooses to have an abortion, they should be able to do so safely.”

Many women have personal stories related to the subject. Kindred intends to collect them as part of her advocacy work with Wyoming United for Freedom.

Women from diverse ideological backgrounds spoke at the summit recounting raw stories of fatal fetal diagnoses, passing a fetus using abortion-inducing medications in a hotel room in Colorado, having a baby die inside the womb before birth, or being turned away for doctor-recommended treatment on religious grounds.

Sharing such personal abortion stories is key to her group’s strategy, Kindred said.

“We will be doing a story-telling campaign,” she said. “Not just canvassing, phone banking, organizing, we want to bring those voices to our elected officials, to our governing bodies. Amplify Wyoming stories.”

Madelyn Beck reports from Laramie on health and public safety. Before working with Pedrodiniz, she was a public radio journalist reporting for NPR stations across the Mountain West, covering regional issues...

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  1. NOBODY is in favor of killing babies (they are so innocent and precious)... EVERYBODY, however, IS in favor of CHOICE!!! (for every woman), SELF-DETERMINATION! CAPTAIN of our own ship! And if MEN think they have the right to decide what is best for a WOMAN'S body, we'll be ecstatically happy to decide what is best for a MAN'S body-especially where vasectomies and prostates are concerned, ETC.! 🙂

  2. The point is that if someone doesn't want to have an abortion or think some crazy stuff that it's against God's will, whatever they believe that's up to them. Don't have an abortion, but for the rest of us. Women make decisions over their own bodies, not a bunch of patriarchal men and women who have for whatever reason decided they're gonna decide with massaginastic patriotic men. This is horrific Canada where I come from.Allows a woman to make a decision about her own body

  3. Really hope the women in this state turn out to overwhelmingly vote blue this election. We need to send a message that the wannabe dictators and authoritarian of the Republican party are not wanted here or anywhere in the US. And for all of you blathering about God and Lord and all that nonsense...dont bring your God into my personal medical decisions.

  4. If a fetus is not a human,,,,what is it? When does it become human? At what stage is killing it ok? What if it is born prematurely, should it be ok to kill it, refuse any medical care? Ending the life os another human being seems pretty drastic.

    1. If it's born prematurely, then it's no longer a fetus. It's a premature birth and if it's alive, then killing it would be murder. We already have laws against murder.
      You've been misinformed on what abortion is. You should educate yourself from legitimate medical websites and not from right wing Christian conservative ones.

  5. I am proud to be a part of building a strong network of citizens and organizations that are ready, willing and able to advocate for reproductive justice in Wyoming. I will continue to volunteer and donate to the all of the organizations that support this movement.

  6. This is Violation of what the Lord Says thou shall no murder Im against abortion and so is The Lord I'm praying this fails

    1. My lord teaches people to mind their business when it comes to other people's medical decisions.

      Worry about what goes on in your bedroom and your doctors appointments. What other people do is not your concern.

    2. You're misinformed about what abortion is. Educate yourself instead of forcing your religious beliefs on others.

  7. Thank you for this article and continuing to spread the word that there are many, many women in Wyoming who support a woman’s right to choose. It’s important to have a place where women can join forces and make our voices heard. Thank you Marcie and Maggie. I look forward to standing with you for the sake of my daughters. We want and are entitled to control over our lives and our own bodies.

  8. Wyoming’s women have the power to decide our future. Do we finally gain the equality decreed in our constitution, or submit to the demands of patriarchal religion?

    What a wonderful group this is, leading the way into a better Wyoming.

  9. This is a horrible situation these women are decievied and deceiving others into Abortions the murder of an actual life there's no way to “Sugarcoat” any of this take precautions NOT to create a life instead of killing a baby in the womb or income states at birth. God help ALL of you. I have helped women and men to recover from the PAT (Post Abortion Trauma) there is such a thing. You ladies are NOT HELPING.

    1. Really?! Not all abortions are because someone was irresponsible. Your devotion to an ancient religion and nonsense in a book I seriously doubt you've read is not helping

    2. You're incorrect perception of abortion is why 10 and 13 year old girls have been forced to remain pregnant against their will after being raped.

  10. Thank you for the wonderful and timely article Ms. Beck. A huge thank you to Marcie and Maggie for banding together to promote Women's Rights and safeguard our freedom to choose. The right to make personal, medical, and/or spiritual decisions is the most basic of freedoms. I stand with you ladies.

  11. I would like to know why most men think they should control any and all women, let alone her Reproductive Health? Your place in this conversation is archaic and based on no facts. Religious preferences belong to you only and are not to be forced into government, legislated in government as their is a clear line between religious opinions and the division of church and state. I would very much like you all to exit and leave what should be a private matter between the woman or child, the medical provider, and only the immediate family if requested by the individual. And I venture to say that as no man has yet carried a child or been pregnant it really is time for you to withdraw permanently. It is no one's business. It is a personal private matter.

    1. Most men have a low opinion of themselves, and see women as an easy target. Fight back! Most of them will turn and run away.

    2. I agree. Consider the fact that Wyomings three congressional reps are against a woman's right to choose. Two of the three are women. We need to make change at the political level.

    3. Most pro-life activists are women. The most pro-abortion are liberal men.
      Abortion is a bioethics issue, not a religious issue. Using your logic, the religious groups that supported abolition and equal rights for women also were violating Church and State. BTW, the separation isn't in the Constitution. It simply says the State can not discriminate.

      1. That's some Olympic level deflection there. Unfortunately, deflection isn't an Olympic event so you'll just have to watch on tv...

  12. Thank you! Women need to be able to make informed decisions on this issue with their doctor, not the government. The government needs to stay out of our decision making process.

    Applause for your outreach efforts.

  13. Thank you for this critical effort. Women need FREEDOM too - and the freedom to make decisions about our bodies and our future!

    1. Fetuses are NOT human beings. Abortion, tubal ligation, vasectomy, and abortion should all be encouraged all around this overpopulated planet.

      Put religion into the trash, where it belongs. Don't let the “religious” right get away with their atrocious imposition of their nonsensical beliefs onto all of us.

      1. Fetuses are human beings. They may not be persons under the law, but they are living human beings. A DNA analysis of any aborted fetus would show Homo sapiens (human being) and unique from the mother.
        As for overpopulation, birth rates are crashing and are below the replacement rate now. Science isn't on your side on this.

        Abortion is a bioethics issue that far more complex than any religious belief. That same “religious right” supported abolition. Every time some pro abortion type complains about the “religious right”, I can picture some Southern plantation owner saying the same thing almost 200 years ago.

        1. A fetus cannot survive on its own, meaning it is NOT a human being, irrespective of its genome.

          There is nothing complex about abortion opinions much as you desire (perhaps to cloud the issue??) to make it so. Your attempt to make it a “bioethics” matter is pure nonsense...perhaps that's your excuse (“justification”) for wanting to tell women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies, just as the Christian right attempts-with a great deal of success presently-to do.

          Abortion has been happening for a long, long time, whether legal, or illegal, the latter being what the Christian right, in all its sanctimony, wants it to be. I consider all religions and their various gods to be total wishful-thinking-fairy-tale-based nonsense. They are nothing more than another means for the “true believers” to attempt control of the thinking and behavior of others.

          By the way, human population of planet has more than tripled since 1950. It's ‘way past time for it to crash, until it reaches a size compatible with its habitat.

      2. At exactly what point is it a human fetus? If it cries when it is yanked out early does that qualify it, if one can tell if it is male or female? If another human is in your way and you want to kill it how does that change it from a human?

    2. Bot all abortion is because someone was irresponsible. Educate yourself! These bans stop women from getting a non viable pregnancy stopped as well as many more issues that have nothing to do with being irresponsible. There is a much bigger picture here that you are apparently incapable of seeing.

  14. This effort is a breath of fresh air. Good luck to Marci and Maggie as you work to regain our freedom and dignity. Although we need government to help the people it services, we also need people willing to push back on would be leaders who aspire to take our freedom and dignity away.

    1. Yes, please. Why haven't we gathered signatures to put this on the ballot? Many conservative states are doing this & winning! It's time to let the people speak!