Wyoming becomes first state to ban abortion pills

Republican Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon is pictured in an undated photo. Wyoming became the first state in the nation to specifically ban the use or prescription of abortion pills when Gordon signed the bill into law March 17. He allowed a second bill that restricts abortion to become law without his signature. (OSV News Photo by Mark Gordon handout via Reuters)

By Kate Scanlon

Wyoming became the first state in the nation to specifically ban the use or prescription of abortion pills on March 17.

Gov. Mark Gordon, R-Wyo., signed the law with a ruling by a federal judge in Texas still outstanding that could potentially implement a nationwide ban on the drug mifepristone amid a legal challenge brought by pro-life groups.

The state’s legislature passed two pieces of legislation in March that would restrict abortion in the state, but the governor allowed the other bill to become law without his signature.

The other bill prohibits most abortions in the state with narrow exceptions for cases of rape or incest, risks to the mother’s life, or “a lethal fetal anomaly.”

Local media reported that Gordon, a Republican, told reporters in a March 7 press conference he was weighing the bills’ constitutionality and wanted to ensure there is an understanding of “how they interplay with one another; how they interplay with existing law.”

“And then also whether there are any unforeseen consequences that could be problematic,” he said.

State law gives Gordon 15 days to veto legislation if he so chooses, otherwise it becomes law without his signature after approval by the legislature.

Gordon announced a list of his recently signed bills on March 9, including legislation to boost the state’s tourism economy and efforts to protect the state’s Native American cultures, but the abortion bills were not among those he signed at that time.

The ACLU of Wyoming had called on Gordon to veto the bills, circulating a petition arguing that “Deeply private, personal, and unique decisions about abortion should be made by pregnant people in consultation with their doctors — who should be able to treat their patients according to their best medical (judgment).”

Students for Life Action, the lobbying arm of Students for Life of America, had urged Gordon to sign both bills, which the group characterized as important efforts to protect mothers as well as the preborn.

“Preborn children in Wyoming needed their representatives to step up to bat for them, and that’s exactly what we saw play out through a grueling amendment process thanks to principled leaders who boldly defended the preborn,” Dustin Curtis, SFL Action vice president of political affairs and operations, said in a statement.

Adam Schwend, SBA Pro-Life America’s western regional director, said in a statement that the legislation sent to Gordon’s desk “values all human life, born and unborn, and the wellbeing of women.”

“SBA Pro-Life America applauds every lawmaker who played a role in advancing safeguards against dangerous chemical abortion drugs, extending medical coverage for moms to a year after childbirth and protecting unborn children of all ages,” Schwend said. “We applaud legislators for being champions for the most vulnerable among us and advocates for the health, safety and security of mothers.”

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