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Wyoming Becomes First US State to Ban Abortion Pills

Wyoming has become the first US state to ban abortion pills after its governor, Mark Gordon, signed a bill that made prescribing or selling them illegal.[0] The bill, dubbed the “Life is a Human Right Act”, was passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature earlier this month, and makes it illegal to “prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion”. Without signing, Governor Gordon permitted a far-reaching bill restricting abortion to become law.[1]

The bill is part of a wider battle against abortion-inducing medication taking place across the country.[2] Abortion pills account for more than 54 percent of all medical abortions carried out in the US, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The two-pill combination of mifepristone and another drug is the most common form of abortion in the US, and is considered one of the most accessible and reliable methods of pregnancy termination.

Under the new law, prescribing or selling abortion pills is a felony punishable by 5 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $20,000. The law also provides exemptions for certain medical circumstances, such as when the fetus has a lethal anomaly, or if the mother’s life is in danger.[3] Women “upon whom a chemical abortion is performed or attempted shall not be criminally prosecuted”, and there is also an exemption for treatment necessary to protect a woman “from an imminent peril that substantially endangers her life or health”.[0]

In a statement, Gordon expressed concern that the Life is a Human Right Act would result in a lawsuit that will “delay any resolution to the constitutionality of the abortion ban in Wyoming”.[3] He added that he “acted without bias and after extensive prayer” in allowing the bill to pass, citing his pro-life voting record.[4]

The ban on abortion pills comes in the wake of a US Supreme Court ruling last year overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade judgment, which granted the constitutional right of American women to have abortions.[5] Currently, an American judge in Texas is looking at the potential of issuing a ban on mifepristone, a medication used for abortions, on a national scale. This is in response to a lawsuit brought forward by pro-life groups.[0]

No specific date is indicated in the bill for the enactment of the sweeping legislation prohibiting all abortions which Gordon permitted to become law.[6]

0. “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

1. “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

2. “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

3. “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

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

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