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Wyoming Becomes First State to Ban Abortion Pills

Amid an ongoing battle against access to abortion-inducing medication taking place across the US, Wyoming has become the first state to ban abortion pills after Governor Mark Gordon signed the “Life is a Human Right Act” into law on Friday night.[0] The Act makes prescribing or selling abortion pills a felony, punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $20,000.[1]

Governor Gordon expressed concern that the law “will only result in a new lawsuit, which will delay any resolution to the constitutionality of the abortion ban in Wyoming.”[2] However, women upon whom a chemical abortion is performed or attempted are exempt from prosecution.[3] The law also exempts treatment of a natural miscarriage according to currently accepted medical guidelines, as well as treatment necessary to protect the life or health of the mother.[3]

The Act comes in the wake of a US 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. Since then, numerous states have placed restrictions on abortion medication, such as requiring an in-person visit to a doctor before obtaining a pill.[4]

Currently, a judge in Texas is looking into placing a country-wide restriction on the abortion drug mifepristone after being petitioned by anti-abortion groups.[3] This ruling would be one of the biggest reproductive rights controversies in the US since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade last year.

The broader Life is a Human Right Act, which was sponsored by Wyoming Freedom Caucus member Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, was designed to end the practice of abortion sooner than the state’s existing abortion trigger ban by attempting to clarify legal questions that have come up in court challenges to the law.[5]

Abortion pills account for more than 54 per cent of all medical abortions carried out in the US, and are the most common form of abortion in the country.[4] The US pharmacy chain Walgreens has also recently decided it would not distribute abortion pills in states with Republican governments or where Republican officials have threatened to sue if the drugs are offered.[6]

Governor Gordon said he “acted without bias and after extensive prayer” in allowing the bill to pass.[0] He expressed hope that the Legislature would “put a constitutional amendment before the people and let them decide if they want to add an abortion ban to the state’s Constitution.[2]

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

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. “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/

3. “Wyoming becomes first US state to ban abortion pills” Sky News, 18 Mar. 2023, https://news.sky.com/story/us-state-of-wyoming-introduces-new-law-banning-abortion-pills-12836777

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

5. “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

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

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