Wyoming Governor Signs Bill Banning Abortion Pills

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CHEYENNE, Wyoming — Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed a bill late Friday 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 limited access to abortion pills. The Republican governor’s decision 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 medication is the most common form of abortion in the US.

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

In a statement, Gordon expressed concern that the latest law, dubbed the Life is a Human Right Act, will result in a lawsuit that “will 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, a Republican, 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, which are already banned in several states that have outright bans on all types of abortion.

“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 Roe’s reversal last June, abortion restrictions have been run by the states, and the landscape has changed rapidly. Thirteen states are now banning abortion at any time during pregnancy, and one more, 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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