Wyoming governor signs bill prohibiting abortion pills
Wyoming’s Republican governor Mark Gordon signed a bill into law prohibiting the prescription of abortion drugs in the state, the first to effectively outlaw the medication.
The law will take effect from 1 July and make it illegal to “prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion”.
The law states that doctors or anyone else found guilty of prescribing the medication could be charged with a misdemeanour, punishable by up to six months in prison and a $9,000 (£7,387) fine.
Pregnant patients will be exempt from charges and penalties, according to the law.
The law comes as a preliminary ruling is expected from a federal court judge in Texas who could order the US Food and Drug Administartion to withdraw its approval of mifepristone, the pill used in a two-drug regimen used in more than half of all abortions in the US.
Such an action could upend the drug’s availability nationally, even in states where abortion care and medication abortion is legally protected.
Governor Gordon also allowed a separate measure restricting access to abortion to become a law without his signature amid a wave of anti-abortion legislation from state lawmakers across the US.
The law, which kicks in on Sunday, bans abortion under most circumstances, rendering the medical termination of an unwanted pregnancy a felony.
“There’s no stone that anti-choice extremists will leave unturned as they seek to do everything they can to ensure that abortion is banned across the nation,” NARAL Pro-Choice America president Mini Timmaraju said in a statement onSaturday. “This first-of-its-kind ban on medication abortion, as well as the total ban, are just the latest proof.”
Mifepristone is one of a two-drug protocol for medication abortion, a procedure that accounts for more than half of all abortions nationwide. The drug was approved for use by the FDA in most cases up to 10 weeks of pregnancy in 2000.
Multiple studies have determined they are overwhelmingly safe and effective, and have been used in roughly 54 per cent of all abortions. A vast majority of abortions occur within the first nine weeks. In 2019, nearly 93 per cent of all abortions were performed before the 13th week.
Wyoming ACLU advocacy director Antonio Serrano slammed the governor’s signature on the law.
"A person’s health, not politics, should guide important medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion," Mr Serrano said in a statement.
Restrictions on abortion have scaled up significantly after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade in June last year, in which the high court’s conservative supermajority revoked a constitutional right to abortion care that was in place for nearly half a century.
At least 13 states are now enforcing bans on abortion at any point in pregnancy, while several others have advanced laws and legislation to prohibit abortion care at six weeks of pregnancy, before many patients know they are pregnant.
Court decisions in Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming have placed severe restrictions on hold, while Idaho courts have forced the state to allow abortions during medical emergencies.