Wyoming is the first state in the US to make it illegal to use or prescribe abortion pills. This month, the state’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill that Governor Mark Gordon signed into law.
The most important part of the two-page Wyoming bill is a sentence that says it is illegal to “prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell, or use any drug to get or do an abortion.”
The ban does not apply to so-called “morning-after” pills, prescription birth control pills taken after sex but before a pregnancy can be confirmed.
The bill also exempts any treatment needed to protect a woman “from an imminent danger that seriously threatens her life or health,” as well as any treatment for a “natural miscarriage according to currently accepted medical guidelines.”
A criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $9,000, will be made out of breaking the ban.
The measure says that a woman who has a chemical abortion or tries to have one will not be charged with a crime.
In a statement, Wyoming ACLU advocacy director Antonio Serrano criticized the governor for signing the law.
Serrano said, “A person’s health, not politics, should be the focus of important medical decisions, like whether or not to have an abortion.”
The governor also said he would let a separate bill passed by state lawmakers go into effect without his signature. This bill would ban most types of abortions except when they are needed to protect the health and life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest. Doctors can also end a pregnancy if they find something wrong with the fetus that will kill it.
The new law in Wyoming is part of a right-wing movement to crack down on abortions done with pills. For example, a federal judge in Texas is considering a nationwide ban on the abortion pill mifepristone in response to a lawsuit from anti-abortion groups.
The most common way to get an abortion in the US is to take mifepristone and another drug in two pills.
Even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which had protected the right to abortion for almost 50 years, medication abortions were the most common way to end a pregnancy in the US.
Since that decision in June, states have been able to set their own rules about abortion, and things have changed quickly. Thirteen states now have laws that make it illegal to have an abortion at any time during pregnancy. Georgia also has a law that makes it unlawful to have an abortion once cardiac activity can be seen around six weeks into a pregnancy.
In Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming, abortion bans or strict rules have been put on hold by the courts. Idaho’s courts have made it so that abortions can be done in medical emergencies.
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