The ban on abortion pills in Wyoming was set to go into effect in July, pending legal action that could delay it.
The governor of the US state of Wyoming signed a bill banning abortion pills in the state and also allowed a separate measure restricting abortion to become law without his signature.
Governor Mark Gordon’s decision on Friday comes after the issue of access to abortion pills took center stage in a Texas court this week. A federal judge there questioned a Christian group’s attempt to overturn the decades-old U.S. approval of a leading abortion drug, mifepristone.
The pills are already banned in 13 states with blanket bans on all forms of abortion, and 15 states already have limited access to abortion pills.
Medical abortion became the preferred method of terminating pregnancies in the US even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, the ruling that protected the right to abortion for nearly 50 years. A combination of two pills of mifepristone and another drug is the most common form of abortion in the US.
The ban on abortion pills in Wyoming was set to go into effect in July, pending legal action that could delay it. The implementation date of the sweeping legislation banning all abortions Gordon has authorized by law is not specified in the bill.
In a statement, Gordon expressed concern that the latest bill, dubbed the Life is a Human Right Act, would result in a lawsuit that “will delay any resolution to the constitutionality of the Wyoming abortion ban.”
He noted that earlier today in an ongoing lawsuit, plaintiffs were challenging the new law in case he did not veto it.
“I believe this issue needs to be decided as soon as possible so that the abortion issue in Wyoming can finally be resolved, and that is best done with a voice of the people,” Gordon, a Republican, said in a statement.
‘Health, not politics’
In a statement, Wyoming American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Advocacy Director Antonio Serrano criticized Gordon’s decision to sign the bill into law.
“A person’s health, not politics, should guide major medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion,” Serrano said.
Of the 15 states that have limited access to the pills, six require an in-person visit to a doctor. Those laws could withstand court challenges; states have long held authority over how doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers practice medicine.
States are also setting the rules for telemedicine consultations used to prescribe medications. In general, this means health care providers in states with restrictions on abortion pills could face penalties, such as fines or license suspension, for attempting to mail pills.
Women are already traveling across state lines to places where access to abortion pills is easier. That trend is expected to increase.
Since Roe’s reversal last June, abortion restrictions have been imposed on states and the landscape has changed rapidly. Thirteen states now enforce a ban on abortion at any time during pregnancy, and one more, Georgia, bans it as soon as heart activity can be detected or after about six weeks of gestation.
Courts have suspended enforcement of abortion bans or far-reaching restrictions in Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming. Courts in Idaho have forced the state to allow abortions during medical emergencies.
Gordon, the governor of Wyoming, said he would not back down in the fight against abortion.
“I believe that all life is sacred and that every individual, including the unborn child, should be treated with dignity and compassion,” Gordon said in a letter to the secretary of state on Friday evening.