Wyoming Governor Signs Bill Banning Abortion Pills, Sparks National Debate

Amid an ongoing battle against abortion-inducing medication taking place across the country, Wyoming has become the first US state to ban abortion pills after the governor signed a bill on Friday night making prescribing or selling them illegal.[0]

The “Life is a Human Right Act” makes it a felony punishable by five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $20,000 for anyone found prescribing, dispensing, distributing, selling or using any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion.[1]

The bill signed by Governor Mark Gordon also allows a separate and more sweeping measure restricting abortion to become law without his signature.[2] It bans abortion under most circumstances, except in cases of rape and incest or if the mother’s life is in danger.[3] Exceptions are made in particular medical cases, such as when the fetus has a fatal defect.[4]

The move to render abortion pills inaccessible comes in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling last year that overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade judgment, which granted the constitutional right of American women to have abortions.[5]

Gordon voiced his worry that the enactment of the new law would only lead to a new lawsuit, thus prolonging the process of determining the legality of the abortion ban in Wyoming.[6]

Women “upon whom a chemical abortion is performed or attempted” will not be prosecuted, though an exemption is granted for treatment necessary to protect the mother’s life and any treatment of a “natural miscarriage according to currently accepted medical guidelines”.[7]

The law takes effect July 1, pending any legal action that could delay that.

The US is also awaiting a judge in Texas to rule on whether a commonly used abortion pill, mifepristone, should be sold in the US, in a ruling that could curtail access to the drug nationwide.[0] A US pharmacy chain also recently decided not to distribute abortion pills in states with Republican governments or where Republican officials have threatened to sue if the drugs are offered.[5]

The issue of access to abortion pills has taken centre stage this week in a Texas court, with a Christian group’s effort to overturn the decades-old US approval of a leading abortion drug mifepristone being questioned by a federal judge.

Governor Gordon said he “acted without bias and after extensive prayer” in allowing the bill to pass, citing his pro-life voting record.[8]

0. “US governor signs measure banning abortion pills in Wyoming” Al Jazeera English, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/18/us-governor-signs-measure-prohibiting-abortion-pills-in-wyoming

1. “Wyoming just became the first state to ban medication abortion” Business Insider, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/wyoming-first-state-to-ban-medication-abortion-2023-3

2. “Two new abortion bans to become law in Wyoming” WyoFile, 18 Mar. 2023, https://wyofile.com/two-new-abortion-bans-will-go-into-effect-in-wyoming

3. “Wyoming governor signs bill prohibiting abortion pills” AOL, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.aol.com/news/wyoming-governor-signs-bill-prohibiting-053624343.html

4. “Governor allows sweeping Wyoming abortion measure to pass, setting up court fight” Jackson Hole News&Guide, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.jhnewsandguide.com/jackson_hole_daily/state_and_regional/wynews/governor-allows-sweeping-wyoming-abortion-measure-to-pass-setting-up-court-fight/article_66d26004-f85f-5b4b-ad8d-fa34dd4cf610.html

5. “Wyoming in US prohibits abortion pill use” La Prensa Latina, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.laprensalatina.com/wyoming-in-us-prohibits-abortion-pill-use

6. “Gordon Signs One Abortion Bill, Not Another As He Touts His ‘Strong Pro-Life Record'” Cowboy State Daily, 18 Mar. 2023, https://cowboystatedaily.com/2023/03/18/gordon-signs-one-abortion-bill-not-another-as-he-touts-his-strong-pro-life-record/

7. “Abortion pills banned in Wyoming as Texas judge considers nationwide decision” BBC, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64998920

8. “Wyoming, the first territory in the United States to grant women the right to vote, just became the first state to ban …” Yahoo! Voices, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/news/wyoming-first-territory-united-states-061305517.html

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