Wyoming’s governor signs measure banning abortion pills

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed a bill banning medication abortions in the state and also allowed a separate measure restricting abortions to become law without his signature

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed a bill Friday night banning abortion pills in the state and also allowed a separate measure restricting abortions to become law without his signature.

The pill is now banned in 13 states with outright bans on all forms of abortion, and 15 states now have restricted access to abortion pills. The Republican governor’s decision comes as the issue of access to the abortion pill took center stage this week in a Texas court. A federal judge there has raised questions about a Christian group’s efforts to overturn decades-old U.S. approval of a leading abortion drug, mifepristone.

Medical abortions became the preferred method of pregnancy termination in the US even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the decision that protected abortion rights for nearly five decades. The combination of two mifepristone tablets and another drug is the most common form of abortion in the United States

Wyoming’s abortion pill ban will go into effect in July, pending legal action that could potentially delay it. The implementation date of the sweeping legislation banning all abortions that Gordon allowed to become law was not specified in the bill.

With an earlier ban tied up in court, abortions currently remain legal in the state until viability, or when the fetus can survive outside the womb.

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

He noted that earlier in the day, plaintiffs in an ongoing case had challenged the new law in case he didn’t veto it.

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

In a statement, ACLU of Wyoming Advocacy Director Antonio Serrano criticized Gordon’s decision to sign the ban on abortion pills, which are already banned in a number of states that have blanket 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 countries that have limited access to the pill, six require an in-person visit to a doctor. These laws could withstand legal challenges; states have long held sway over how doctors, pharmacists, and other providers practice medicine.

States also set rules for telemedicine consultations used to prescribe drugs. Generally, this means that health care providers in states with abortion pill restrictions could face penalties, such as fines or license suspensions, for trying to mail pills.

Women now travel across state lines to places where access to abortion pills is easier. This trend is expected to increase.

Since Roe’s repeal last June, abortion restrictions have been up to the states, and the landscape has quickly changed. Thirteen states now enforce bans on abortion at any point in pregnancy, and another, Georgia, bans it once a heartbeat can be detected or at about six weeks’ gestation.

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

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