On Friday, Wyoming became the first state in the United States to prohibit medication abortion, as Governor Mark Gordon signed a bill into law that makes it illegal to sell or prescribe abortion pills.
The law, Senate File 109, prohibits “prescribing, dispensing, distributing, selling, or using any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion on any person.”
Those who violate the ban could face a fine of up to $9,000 and/or up to six months in jail. However, individuals who undergo or attempt to undergo a chemical abortion are exempt from criminal prosecution.
The ban is slated to take effect on July 1, 2022, pending any legal challenges.
Additionally, Governor Gordon announced that he would not veto House Bill 152, a bill that criminalizes performing an abortion as a felony with very few exceptions.
The bill will automatically become law on Sunday if the previous abortion law is deemed unconstitutional.
In a letter to the secretary of state, Gordon said he acted “without bias and after extensive prayer to allow these bills to become law.”
Antonio Serrano, the advocacy director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Wyoming, expressed disappointment with the governor’s decision but pledged to continue the fight for abortion rights.
“A person’s health, not politics, should guide important medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion,” he said. “Everyone deserves the right to control their own bodies and to make their own decisions about their lives and futures, free from punishment, judgment or political interference.”
Wyoming’s ban comes as an upcoming ruling in Texas could essentially ban medication abortion nationwide.
Anti-abortion organizations filed a lawsuit last year seeking to force the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to withdraw its approval of mifepristone, one of two medications used for medical termination of pregnancies.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, appointed by former President Donald Trump, is expected to rule on the lawsuit. If Kacsmaryk supports the abortion opponents, it would be devastating for reproductive rights, say advocates.
“The impact of this case could be sweeping and horrifying,” researchers with Washington-based rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America said last month.
“Medication abortion is now used to provide more than half of all abortion care nationwide. If mifepristone were made unavailable throughout the country, it would eliminate the most commonly used method of abortion care.”
On Wednesday, Kacsmaryk vowed to make a ruling “as soon as possible.”