This opinion piece was written and submitted by House District 39 Representative Cody Wylie.
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The Wyoming House of Representatives had two vigorous debates on the final day for house bills to be heard this year.
One was about the HB0152. which strengthens our state’s prohibitions against abortion. The other HB0004 was about a bill that would make sure low-income,
uninsured new moms in Wyoming are eligible for postpartum coverage for 12 months after they give birth.
Currently, the cutoff for postpartum Wyoming Medicaid is 60 days.
I voted for both these bills because I believe they go hand in hand. If we’re going to hold the line and protect life by outlawing abortion, we also need to be damn sure we’re prepared and willing to roll up our sleeves and fund programs for mothers and children. It’s going to be an issue, and we’re going to need to figure out ways to do it.
Thankfully, both bills passed the House and are waiting to be heard in the Senate.
House Bill 4 – is designed to make sure that new moms in Wyoming have access to basic healthcare, including mental health treatment, so that they and their babies remain healthy. It will help mothers access services and a little bit of help that is needed to get them back to work whether in the home or office.
According to the Wyoming Department of Health, one in five new moms in Wyoming currently lose health insurance three months after they give birth.
This is mostly women who work in low-wage industries like hospitality or retail that don’t offer job-based insurance.
I also believe that we cannot turn our back and pretend this is not a problem. I would argue that the million or two the state would contribute for HB 4 will result in an overall cost savings of millions and decrease reliance on state aid. This is an instance of “help us, help you.”
What does this mean in a state with pro-life laws like Wyoming? For one thing, it means that pregnant women who feel like they don’t have the resources to raise a child can still drive over the border to Colorado and get an abortion.
If we want to discourage abortion in Wyoming, we need to make sure women know they are capable of caring for a child.House District 39 Representative Cody Wylie
Healthcare access is part of that. House bill 4 is a tool we can use to encourage Wyoming women to choose life.
Pro-life doesn’t just mean “pro birth.” When I drive from Rock Springs to Cheyenne to serve in the Legislature, I pass by billboards that say “Pro-Life: Mother and child, love them both.” That really reflects what the house bill 4 is all about. Healthy moms equal healthy babies, and if we care about babies, we need to care about moms, too.
House Bill 4 does not expand the number of people who would become eligible for Wyoming Medicaid. It’s the same group of people that has been eligible all along—low-income, uninsured new mothers—but the period of coverage is extended from two months to twelve.
This is important especially for mental health, given that postpartum depression, which can spiral out of control and even lead to suicide, doesn’t just go away after two months. Healthcare coverage is a way of making sure women can get back on their feet within a year instead of struggling and relying on further government assistance.
Some of my colleagues in the House argued against this extension, saying that the government has absolutely no role in healthcare. But how can we say we don’t want government involved in postpartum care, while we draft legislation to ban abortions?
In my opinion, you can’t have it both ways. HB 4 will give poor mothers access to services and a little extra help to build their self-confidence, get them back to work and assist them in providing for their families and communities.
In other words, it will give these mothers and their children the opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The Wyoming Legislature is stepping up and protecting the lives of unborn babies, and I’m proud to be part of that. But we also need to step up and make sure that new moms have the access to basic care they need for that first year after they give birth—for their sake, and the sake of their new babies.
I hope my colleagues in the Senate understand the weight of our decision and the effects it will have on countless lives mothers or newborns. I am on and in Favor of House Bill 0004 and House Bill 0152
House District 39