Wyoming Governor Signs Bill Banning Abortion Pills

Gordon, a Republican, signed the bill into law Friday night, allowing a separate measure restricting abortion to become law without his signature.

The pills are already banned in 13 states that have blanket bans on all forms of abortion, and 15 states already have limited access to abortion pills. However, until now, no state has passed a law specifically banning such pills, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

A group seeking to open a women’s health and abortion clinic in Casper said it was evaluating legal options.

“We are shocked and outraged that these laws eradicate access to basic healthcare, including safe and effective medical abortion,” Wellspring Health Access President Julie Burkhart said in a statement.

The clinic, which was prevented from opening by a firebomb last year, is one of two nonprofits suing to block an earlier ban on abortion in Wyoming. No arrests have been made, and organizers say the clinic is tentatively scheduled to open in April, depending on the legal status of abortion in Wyoming at the time.

abortion clinics
People attend an abortion rights rally at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City after the US Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade (Rick Bowmer/AP/PA)

The Republican governor’s decision on the two measures comes after the issue of access to abortion pills took center stage this week in a Texas court. A federal judge has raised questions about efforts by a Christian group to revoke decades-old US approval of one of the leading abortion drugs, mifepristone.

Medical abortions became the preferred method of terminating a pregnancy in the US even before the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, the ruling that protected abortion rights for nearly five decades. A combination of two mifepristone pills and another drug is the most common form of abortion in the US.

Wyoming’s abortion pill ban would take effect in July, pending any legal action that might delay it. The implementation date of the sweeping legislation banning all abortions that Mr Gordon allowed to become law is not specified in the bill.

With the previous ban tied up in the courts, abortion currently remains legal in the state until it is viable, or when the fetus can survive outside the womb.

In a statement, Gordon expressed concern that the latest law, dubbed the Life Is A Human Right Act, would lead to a lawsuit that would “delay any resolution on the constitutionality of Wyoming’s abortion ban.”

He noted that earlier in the day, plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit filed a challenge to the new law in the event he failed to cast a veto.

“I believe this issue must be decided as soon as possible so that the abortion issue in Wyoming can finally be resolved, and that is best done with a vote of the people,” Gordon said in a statement.

In a statement, ACLU of Wyoming director of advocacy Antonio Serrano criticized Gordon’s decision to sign a ban on abortion pills.

“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 limited access to the pills, six require an in-person medical visit. Those laws could withstand court challenges; States have long had authority over how doctors, pharmacists, and other providers practice medicine.

States also set the rules for telemedicine visits used to prescribe drugs. In general, that means health providers in states with restrictions on abortion pills could face penalties, such as fines or license suspension, for attempting to mail pills.

Women have already been traveling across state lines to places where access to abortion pills is easier. That trend is expected to increase.

Since the reversal of Roe v. Wade in June, abortion restrictions have been in the hands of the states, and the landscape has changed rapidly. Thirteen states now enforce a ban on abortion at any time during pregnancy, and another, Georgia, bans it once heart activity can be detected, or around six weeks gestation.

Courts have stayed enforcement of abortion bans or deep restrictions in Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming. Idaho courts have compelled the state to allow abortions during medical emergencies.


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