Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, last night, signed into law a bill outlawing the use or prescription of medication abortion pills.
The bill was issued earlier this month by the conservative Republican party-driven state and the law is set to take effect from July 1, 2022.
The two-page Wyoming bill also includes a separate measure that would not even require the signature of the governor himself for the enactment of restricting conventional abortion procedures, allowing them only when necessary to protect the health and life of the mother, or in special cases of rape or incest, or for lethal fetal abnormalities as per medical guidelines.
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One of the major drugs that stand to be shelved under the new ban is Mifepristone, first approved for medical termination of pregnancy in the US in September 2000.
Supportive drugs like Misoprostol, mentioned in the earlier versions of the bill were ruled out due to other medical benefits in pregnancy.
The law, however, exempts “morning-after” pills, which are prescription contraceptive medications used after sex but before a pregnancy can be confirmed.
Legal battles over abortion rights have intensified in the US since the Supreme Court ruling last year in June overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized the procedure. The new Wyoming law comes as a federal judge in Texas is considering ordering a nationwide ban on the abortion pill mifepristone in response to a lawsuit by anti-abortion groups.
The measure outlines that a woman “upon whom a chemical abortion is performed or attempted shall not be criminally prosecuted,” but violation is to be treated as a criminal offense that could result in ” up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $9,000.”
Governor Gordon expressed concern that enactment of the new abortion ban could complicate legal issues, creating a new obstacle to a swift resolution of matters by the courts. He also noted the challenge, to the new law in the light of the already existing ban on abortion, by abortion rights proponents preemptively suing to block the newly passed Wyoming ban.
In a statement supporting his staunch anti-abortion stance, Gordon in a letter to the secretary of state said that he believed all life was sacred and that every individual, including the unborn, needed to be treated with dignity and compassion. He expressed his denial to step down from his fight against abortion.
State Representative Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, the bill’s sponsor has called Wyoming a pro-life state in comparison to the extreme anti-abortion attitude of some other states.
Wyoming ACLU advocacy director Antonio Serrano criticized the governor’s decision to sign the law, saying, “A person’s health, not politics, should guide important medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion.”
Since the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling that had safeguarded abortion rights for nearly five decades, the scenario has quickly changed. 13 states are now enforcing abortion bans, at any stage of pregnancy. Georgia bans it once cardiac activity can be detected, or at about six weeks gestation and Idaho allows abortion in medical emergencies. Enforcement of abortion bans or deep restrictions had previously been held back by courts in Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming.