Wyoming governor signs measure prohibiting abortion pills

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed a bill Friday night prohibiting abortion pills in the state and also allowed a separate measure restricting abortion to become law without his signature.

In a statement, Gordon expressed concern that the latter law, dubbed the Life is a Human Right Act would result in a lawsuit that will “delay any resolution to the constitutionality of the abortion ban in Wyoming.”

He noted that earlier in the day, plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit filed a challenge to the new law in the event he did not issue a veto.

“I believe this question needs to be decided as soon as possible so that the issue of abortion in Wyoming can be finally resolved, and that is best done with a vote of the people,” Gordon, a Republican, said in a statement.

Wyoming’s ban on abortion pills would take effect in July, pending any legal action that could potentially delay that. The implementation date of the sweeping legislation banning all abortions that Gordon allowed to go into law is not specified in the bill.

With an earlier ban tied up in court, abortion currently remains legal in the state up to viability, or when the fetus could survive outside the womb.

The Wyoming governor’s decision on abortion pills comes after they took center stage this week in Texas, where a federal judge raised questions about a Christian group’s effort to overturn the decades-old U.S. approval of a leading abortion drug, mifepristone.

In a statement, Wyoming ACLU advocacy director Antonio Serrano criticized the governor’s decision to sign the law.

“A person’s health, not politics, should guide important medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion,” Serrano said.

A two-pill combination of mifepristone and another drug is the most common form of abortion in the U.S.

Medication abortions became the preferred method for ending pregnancy in the U.S. even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the ruling that protected the right to abortion for nearly five decades.

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Fifteen states already have limited access to abortion pills, including six that require an in-person physician visit. Those laws could withstand court challenges; states have long had authority over how physicians, pharmacists and other providers practice medicine.

States also set the rules for telemedicine consultations used to prescribe medications. Generally that means health providers in states with restrictions on abortion pills could face penalties, such as fines or license suspension, for trying to send pills through the mail.

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Women have already been traveling across state lines to places where abortion pill access is easier. That trend is expected to increase.

Since the reversal of Roe last June, abortion restrictions have been up to states and the landscape has shifted quickly. Thirteen states are now enforcing bans on abortion at any point in pregnancy, and one more, Georgia, bans it once cardiac activity can be detected, or at about six weeks’ gestation.

Courts have put on hold enforcement of abortion bans or deep restrictions in Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming. Idaho courts have forced the state to allow abortions during medical emergencies.

Story was updated with context information about abortion remaining legal up to viability, or when the fetus could survive outside the womb.

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