Wyoming on Friday became the first state in the nation to specifically ban abortion pills, as Republican Governor Mark Gordon signed a law making it illegal to “prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion.”
“My promise to protect the unborn has been fulfilled,” State Senator Tim Salazar, the sponsor of the legislation, wrote on social media Friday, noting that virtually all abortions in Wyoming are medication abortions.
The law, which takes effect in July, carries up to six months imprisonment, up to $9,000 in fines, and includes limited exceptions, including using such medication to treat “natural miscarriage.” In addition to the abortion pill ban on Friday, Gordon — one of several GOP governors to sign a “trigger ban” on abortion after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling last year — allowed another bill restricting abortion to be enacted without his signature, though he cautioned that legislation could get hung up in a court battle. “I understand the Legislature’s effort to improve Wyoming’s pro-life legal framework and preemptively clarify some of these legal questions,” Gordon wrote in a letter to Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray. “However, I believe this question needs to be decided as soon as possible so that the issue of abortion in Wyoming can be finally resolved.”
Medication abortion has been the front line of the fight for reproductive health care since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June. The Biden administration has sought to expand access to abortion pills in order to restore access to abortion in states where the procedure has been banned or severely restricted. The anti-choice movement and its Republican allies, meanwhile, have made the medications — which account for more than half of abortions in America — their next target. Indeed, Republicans have pressured Walgreens and other pharmacies against offering abortion pills by mail and eyed state bans on the drugs, while far-right anti-abortion groups are challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s two-decade approval of mifepristone, one of two medications used to terminate pregnancies. Texas judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, an extremist Donald Trump appointee, heard oral arguments in that case earlier this week and a ruling is expected soon.
Limiting access to abortion pills, as Wyoming now has, could have dramatic implications for reproductive health care in America. “A person’s health, not politics, should guide important medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion,” Antonio Serrano, advocacy director at the ACLU of Wyoming, said in a statement Friday. “Gov. Gordon’s decisions…are disappointing, but the fight for abortion rights in Wyoming isn’t over. We will continue to challenge efforts contrary to our right to make our own reproductive health care decisions.”