CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Signed by Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon introduced a bill Friday night that would ban abortion pills in the state and also allowed a separate bill restricting abortion to become law without his signature.
The pills are already banned in 13 states that have broad 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 there has questioned an effort by a Christian group to revoke decades-old US approval of a leading abortion drug, mifepristone.
Medication abortions have been the preferred method of ending a pregnancy in the US even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the decision that protected abortion rights for nearly five decades. The two-pill combination of mifepristone and another drug is the most common abortion method in the US
Wyoming’s ban on abortion pills goes into effect in July, pending any legal action that could delay that. The implementation date of the sweeping law banning all abortions that Gordon allowed to become law was not specified in the bill.
With an earlier court-bound ban, abortion currently remains legal in the state until viability, or when the fetus can survive outside the womb.
In a statement, Gordon expressed concern that the final law, dubbed the Life is a Human Right Act, would result in a lawsuit that would “delay any resolution on the constitutionality of Wyoming’s abortion ban.”
He noted that earlier today, plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit filed a challenge to the new law in the event that he does not issue a veto.
“I believe that this question needs to be decided as soon as possible so that the issue of abortion in Wyoming can finally be resolved, and that is best done in a vote of the people,” Gordon, a Republican, said in a statement.
In a statement, Wyoming ACLU advocacy director Antonio Serrano criticized Gordon’s decision to sign the ban on abortion pills, which are already banned in some states that have total 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 with limited access to the pills, six require an in-person doctor’s visit. Those laws can withstand court challenges; States have long had authority over how doctors, pharmacists and other providers practice medicine.
States have also set rules for telemedicine consultations used to prescribe drugs. Generally, that means that health providers in states with restrictions on abortion pills could face penalties, such as fines or license suspensions, for trying to ship pills through mail
Women are already traveling across state lines to places where abortion pills are more easily accessible. That trend is expected to increase.
Since Roe was overturned in June, abortion restrictions have been in the states and the landscape has changed rapidly. Thirteen states now enforce bans on abortion at any point in pregnancy, and another, Georgia, bans it as soon as cardiac activity is detected, or at about six weeks’ gestation.
Courts have halted enforcement of abortion bans or deep restrictions in Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming. Courts in Idaho forced the state to allow abortions during medical emergencies.