Wyoming governor signs legislation banning abortion pills
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon has signed legislation banning medical abortion in the state and also allowed a separate measure restricting abortion to become law without his signature
Mar 17, 2023 11:52pm ET
• 3 minutes reading time
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed into law Friday night banning abortion pills in the state and also allowed a separate measure restricting abortion to become law without his signature.
The pills are already banned in 13 states with blanket bans on all forms of abortion, and 15 states already have restricted access to abortion pills. The Republican governor’s decision comes after the issue of access to abortion pills took center stage in a Texas court this week. A federal judge was questioning a Christian group’s efforts to reverse decades-old US approvals of a leading abortion drug, mifepristone.
Medical abortions became the preferred method of terminating a pregnancy in the US long before the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade overturned the ruling that protected abortion rights for nearly five decades. A two-pill combination of mifepristone and another drug is the most common form of abortion in the US
Wyoming’s abortion pill ban would go into effect in July pending legal action that could potentially delay it. The implementation date of the comprehensive legislation banning all abortions that Gordon enacted is not specified in the bill.
In a statement, Gordon expressed concern that the latter law, dubbed the Life is a Human Rights Act, would result in a lawsuit that “will delay any decision on the constitutionality of Wyoming’s anti-abortion ban.”
He noted that plaintiffs in an ongoing court case had filed a challenge to the new law earlier in the day unless he vetoed it.
“I believe this issue needs to be decided as soon as possible in order to finally resolve the abortion issue in Wyoming, and the best way to do that is by popular vote,” Republican Gordon said in a statement.
In a statement, Wyoming ACLU advocacy chief Antonio Serrano criticized Gordon’s decision to sign the ban on abortion pills, which are already banned in a number of states that ban all types of abortions.
“A person’s health, not politics, should guide important medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion,” Serrano said.
Of the 15 states that have restricted access to the pills, six require an in-person visit. These laws could stand up to court challenge; States have long had authority over how doctors, pharmacists, and other providers practice medicine.
States also set the rules for telemedicine consultations used to prescribe medication. In general, this means that healthcare providers in states with abortion pill restrictions can face penalties such as fines or license suspension if they attempt to ship pills through the mail.
Women have already traveled across state lines to places where access to abortion pills is easier. This trend is expected to increase.
Since Roe’s reversal last June, abortion restrictions have been in the hands of states, and the landscape has changed rapidly. Thirteen states now enforce abortion bans at any stage of pregnancy, and another, Georgia, bans it as soon as cardiac activity can be detected or around the sixth week of pregnancy.
Courts have shelved enforcement of abortion bans or severe restrictions in Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming. Idaho courts have forced the state to allow abortions in medical emergencies.