Wyoming governor signs bill banning abortion pillsMEAD GRUVER
March 18, 2023
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed into law the first explicit ban on abortion pills since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. S. Wade last summer.
Gordon, a Republican, signed the bill into law Friday night while 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. According to the Guttmacher Institute, until now, no state had passed a law specifically banning such pills.
A group seeking to open an abortion and women’s health clinic in Casper said they were evaluating legal options.
We are stunned and outraged that these laws would wipe out access to basic health care, including safe, effective medication abortion, Julie Burkhart, president of Wellspring Health Access, said in a statement Saturday.
The clinic, which was prevented from opening by a firebomb last year, is one of two nonprofits filing a lawsuit to block a previous 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 then.
The Republican governor’s decision on the two measures comes after the issue of access to abortion pills took center stage in a Texas court this week. A federal judge there questioned an attempt by a Christian group to overturn the decades-old U.S. approval of a leading abortion drug, mifepristone.
Medical abortions became the preferred method of terminating pregnancy in the US even before the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v.
. Wade, the ruling that protected the right to abortion for nearly five decades. A combination of two pills of mifepristone and another drug is the most common form of abortion in the US
The ban on abortion pills in Wyoming was set to go into effect in July, pending legal action that could delay it. The implementation date of the sweeping legislation banning all abortions Gordon authorized by law is not specified in the bill.
With the earlier ban enshrined in court, abortion currently remains legal in the state until viability, or when the fetus can survive outside the womb.
In a statement, Gordon expressed concern about the latest law, dubbed the Life Is a Human Right Act
would result in a lawsuit that will delay any resolution to the constitutionality of the Wyoming abortion ban.
He noted that earlier today in an ongoing lawsuit, plaintiffs were challenging the new law in case he did not veto it.
I believe this issue needs to be decided as soon as possible so that the abortion issue in Wyoming can finally be resolved, and that is best done with a voice of the people, Gordon said in a statement.
In a statement, Wyoming ACLU advocacy director Antonio Serrano criticized Gordon’s decision to sign the ban on abortion pills.
A person’s health, not politics, should guide major 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 visit to a doctor. Those laws could withstand court challenges; States have long held authority over how doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers practice medicine.
States are also setting the rules for telemedicine consultations used to prescribe medications. In general, this means health care providers in states with restrictions on abortion pills could face penalties, such as fines or license suspension, for attempting to send pills through the mail.
Women are already traveling across state lines to places where access to abortion pills is easier. That trend is expected to increase.
Since Roe’s reversal in June, state abortion restrictions have been in place and the landscape has changed rapidly. Thirteen states now enforce a ban on abortion at any time during pregnancy, and another, Georgia, bans it as soon as heart activity can be detected, or after about six weeks of gestation.
Courts have suspended enforcement of abortion bans or far-reaching restrictions in Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming. Courts in Idaho have forced the state to allow abortions during medical emergencies.
Fernando Dowling is an author and political journalist who writes for 24 News Globe. He has a deep understanding of the political landscape and a passion for analyzing the latest political trends and news.