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Wyoming Becomes First US State to Ban Medication Abortion

Wyoming on Friday became the first US state to ban medication abortion after its governor signed a bill that makes prescribing or selling the abortion pills illegal.[0] Mark Gordon allowed the most sweeping abortion measure in the state’s history to become law without his signature, expressing his pro-life beliefs and concern that the law will delay a final resolution on the question of abortion’s constitutionality in Wyoming.[1] The ACLU of Wyoming slammed the decision, with advocacy director Antonio Serrano saying that “a person’s health, not politics, should guide important medical decisions – including the decision to have an abortion.”[2]

The law, which kicks in on Sunday, bans abortion under most circumstances, making the medical termination of an unwanted pregnancy a felony.[3] It provides exceptions for cases of rape and incest, if the mother’s life is in danger, or if the fetus has a lethal anomaly.[3] A person who commits a violation may face up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $9,000; however, pregnant people who undergo or attempt to undergo a chemical abortion will not be subject to criminal prosecution.[0]

Since the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last June, medication abortion has been an essential component of the struggle for reproductive health care. The Biden administration has attempted to widen availability of abortion pills to bring back the right to abortion in states where it has been prohibited or limited severely.[4] Meanwhile, the anti-choice movement and its Republican allies have set their sights on the medications that are responsible for more than half of abortions in America. The pills accounted for more than 54 per cent of all medical abortions carried out in the US, which requires a two-pill method up to 10 weeks of gestation, a report found, confirming the process to be the most accessible and reliable method to end pregnancies among the US population.

In March of this year, Walgreens pharmacy chain declared that it would not be distributing abortion pills in states with Republican administrations or in states where Republican officials have threatened to take legal action should the drugs be made available.[4] States also set the rules for telemedicine consultations used to prescribe medications, which means health providers in states with restrictions on abortion pills could face penalties, such as fines or licence suspension, for trying to send pills through the mail.[5] In addition to several states, restrictions have been placed on abortion medication, which necessitates an in-person visit to a doctor prior to acquiring the pill.[6]

0. “Wyoming becomes first US state to ban medication abortion” New York Daily News, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-wyoming-first-state-ban-medication-abortion-20230318-dcuq5movkzdtlkouvqavgu4msq-story.html

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. “Governor emphasizes Pro-Life position with new laws/ACLU responds” Wyo4News, 18 Mar. 2023, https://wyo4news.com/news/governor-emphasizes-pro-life-position-with-new-laws-aclu-responds/

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 Becomes First State To Ban Abortion Pills” Vanity Fair, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/03/wyoming-becomes-first-state-to-ban-abortion-pills

5. “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

6. “Wyoming governor signs bill prohibiting abortion pills” AOL, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.aol.com/wyoming-governor-signs-bill-prohibiting-053624282.html

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