Wyoming Republican Senators Mike Enzi and Craig Thomas announced on Monday that President Bush has nominated Wyoming lawyer Richard Honaker to serve as a US District judge. As a state representative, Honaker authored and sponsored legislation in 1991 that would have outlawed abortions in Wyoming except in cases of rape or incest and when a woman’s health was threatened. Titled the “Human Life Protection Act,” the bill, which would have required a woman to report rape or incest within five days in order to be able to obtain an abortion, failed in the state House Judiciary Committee. As a lawyer, Honaker then represented Unseen Hands of Prayer Circle, a political action committee, before the Wyoming Supreme Court in order to place the measure on the state ballot, only for it to be rejected by voters in 1994.
Honaker claims that his political views and anti-abortion activities in the past will not affect his ability to serve as a judge, saying, “As a state legislator, I took positions on a lot of legislative issues and public policy issues, and one of them was on the abortion issue. That was my role at that time’ but my role as a judge would be far different,” AP reports. Reproductive rights advocates who are familiar with Honaker, however, are skeptical of his claims. Said Sharon Breitweiser, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wyoming, “I’m horrified’ I have not had any personal dealings with [Honaker] in many years, but I would doubt that his zeal for the anti-abortion movement has waned in any way,” according to the AP.
Honaker’s nomination will now move to the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Vermont Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D). If approved, Honaker must be confirmed by a full Senate vote before he receives confirmation as a US District judge.