Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon has signed a new law banning abortion pills, making it the first state to pass an explicit ban on such pills since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer. Although 13 states previously had blanket bans on all forms of abortion, and 15 states had limited access to abortion pills, until now, no state had passed a law specifically prohibiting such pills. The new law will take effect in July, but any legal action could potentially delay its implementation.
The implementation date of the sweeping legislation banning all abortions that Governor Gordon allowed to go into law is not specified in the bill. With the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the issue of access to abortion pills has taken center stage in the United States.
A federal judge in Texas recently raised questions about a Christian group’s effort to overturn the decades-old U.S. approval of a leading abortion drug, mifepristone. This issue has also led to legal challenges in other states, including Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah, and Idaho.
Opponents of the new law argue that it would eradicate access to basic health care, including safe, effective medication abortion. Women have been traveling across state lines to places where abortion pill access is easier, and this trend is expected to increase.
Governor Gordon expressed concern that the sweeping legislation banning all abortions could result in a lawsuit that will “delay any resolution to the constitutionality of the abortion ban in Wyoming.”
The debate over abortion has intensified in the United States since the reversal of Roe v. Wade in June. Thirteen states now enforce bans on abortion at any point in pregnancy, and another state, Georgia, bans it once cardiac activity can be detected, or at about six weeks’ gestation.
The governor’s decision to sign the ban on abortion pills has drawn criticism from the Wyoming ACLU advocacy director Antonio Serrano, who said that “a person’s health, not politics, should guide important medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion.”