CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) – Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed a bill Friday night banning the abortion pill in the state and also allowed a separate abortion restriction measure to become law without his signature.
The pill is already banned in 13 states with a complete ban 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 the abortion pill took center stage in a Texas court this week. A federal judge there has raised questions about a Christian group’s effort to overturn the decades-old US approval of a leading abortion drug, mifepristone.
Medical abortions became the preferred method of terminating a pregnancy in the US even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a ruling that protected abortion rights for nearly five decades. The combination of two mifepristone pills and another drug is the most common form of abortion in the US
Wyoming’s abortion pill ban would take effect in July, pending any legal action that could delay it. The implementation date of the sweeping bill banning all abortions that Gordon allowed to pass into 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 latter law, called the Life as Human Rights Act, would result in a lawsuit that would “delay any resolution of the constitutionality of Wyoming’s abortion ban.”
He noted that earlier in the day, prosecutors challenged the new law in an ongoing lawsuit in case he does not veto it.
“I believe that this matter needs to be decided as soon as possible so that the issue of abortion in Wyoming can be finally resolved, and that is best done by the voice of the people,” Gordon, a Republican, said in a statement.
ACLU of Wyoming Advocacy Director Antonio Serrano criticized Gordon’s decision to sign a ban on the abortion pill, which is already banned in a number of 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 restricted access to the pill, six require an in-person visit to a doctor. Those laws could withstand court 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 medications. Generally, this means that health care providers in states with restrictions on abortion pills could face penalties, such as fines or license suspension, for trying to send pills through the mail.
Women have already traveled across state lines to places with easier access to abortion pills. This trend is expected to increase.
Since the reversal of Roe last June, abortion restrictions have been in the hands of the states and the landscape has changed rapidly. Thirteen states now enforce a ban on abortion at any point in pregnancy, and another, Georgia, bans it when cardiac activity is detected, or at about six weeks into pregnancy.
Courts have halted enforcement 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.