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US: Wyoming governor signs bill outlawing abortion pills

  • March 18, 2023

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, on Friday, signed a bill banning the sale and use of abortion pillsin the conservative state. He also green lighted a seperate measure, without his signature, which would restrict abortion to become the law.

The governor’s decision to prohibit abortion pills comes after the issue took center stage in in Texas, where a federal judge is considering ordering a nationwide ban on the leading abortion drug called mifepristone.

A two-pill combination of mifepristone and another drug is the most common way of carrying out an abortion in the United States, even before the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling, protecting abortion rights for decades, was overturned last year. 

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The essence of the Wyoming bill is a provision that makes it illegal to “prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion.”

Morning after pills, which are taken in a brief period after sex but before pregnancy, have been exempted from the ban. The law also exempts the use of drugs required to protect a woman “from an imminent peril that substantially dangers her life or health” along with those required in treatment of a natural miscarriage.  

Violation of the law will be treated as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $9000. The woman “upon whom a chemical abortion is performed or attempted” will not be criminally prosecuted, it says. 

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,” he said. 

A divisive issue

The issue of abortion rights has divided the United States into the two groups of ‘pro life’and ‘pro choice’, with legal fights ramping since the US Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe Vs. Wade decision. 

Thirteen states are now enforcing complete bans on abortion while Georgia bans it once cardiac activity can be detected.

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

In Wyoming, both the ban of medical abortion and the ban on drug-induced abortion are facing legal challenges in court. Governor Gordon acknowledged that the new abortion law will likely complicate the resolution of the current cases in court. 

mk/jcg (AP, Reuters)

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