A state ban on abortion was put on hold as a legal challenge is litigated.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed a bill banning medication abortions into law, making it the first state to target the abortion pill. A second bill he will allow to go into law without his signature will ban most abortions.
The most effective medication abortion regimen involves taking two medications, mifepristone and misoprostol. Medication abortion is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for up to 10 weeks into pregnancy.
Wyoming was one of 13 states that had enacted trigger bans on abortion that were set to go into effect when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The trigger ban, which prohibits abortions in all circumstances except rape, incest or if the mother is at serious risk of death or injury, was blocked by a court as litigation to determine its legality under the state constitution continues.
The medication abortion ban signed by Gordon on Friday makes Wyoming the first state to ban medication abortions separate from a ban on all abortion services.
“I have a strong record of protecting the lives of the unborn, as well as their mothers. I believe all life is sacred and that every individual, including the unborn, should be treated with dignity and compassion,” Gordon said in a letter to Wyoming’s Secretary of State released publicly.
The new law makes it a misdemeanor to dispense, distribute, sell, prescribe or use abortion medications punishable by up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $9,000. This does not include women seeking abortion medication for themselves.
Gordon said he will also allow a second bill, banning abortions except those necessary for the health of the mother, to go into law without his signature, saying he believes that if the state legislature seeks to settle the issue of abortion, it may have to come through a constitutional amendment.
“If the Legislature wants to expressly address how the Wyoming Constitution treats abortion and defines healthcare, then those issues should be vetted through the amendment process laid out in Article 20 of the Wyoming Constitution and voted on directly by the people,” Gordon said.
The ban would allow abortions in cases of rape and incest and to save a woman’s life or prevent harm to her health. Abortions will be permitted for ectopic pregnancies, fetuses with fatal anomalies and women who need cancer treatment, among other exceptions. The new law makes violating the ban a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.