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Governor signs bill making Wyoming the first state to prohibit abortion pills, second pro-life bill passes without his signature

by | Mar 20, 2023

By Dave Andrusko

 Last Friday when Gov. Mark Gordon signed Senate Enrolled Act 93, it made Wyoming the first state to specifically make it illegal “to prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion on any person,” with the exceptions for rape, incest, miscarriages and when the mother’s life is at risk.

“Medication abortion is already outlawed in states that have total bans, since those bans already prohibit all forms of abortion,”  David W. Chen and Pam Belluck reported for the New York Times. “But Wyoming became the first state to outlaw the use of pills for abortion separate from a total ban.”

“A previously enacted abortion ban has so far been blocked by the courts after providers and others filed suit claiming that the law violated the Wyoming Constitution’s guarantee of freedom in health care decisions,” Chen and Belluck wrote.

Anyone guilty of violating Senate Enrolled Act 93 would be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in prison and a $9,000 fine. “The law explicitly says that pregnant patients will be exempt from charges and penalties,” The New York Times reported.

“I have a strong record of protecting the lives of the unborn, as well as their mothers,” Gordon said in a letter to Chuck Gray, Wyoming’s Secretary of State. “I believe all life is sacred and that every individual, including the unborn, should be treated with dignity and compassion.”  The law would take effect on July 1.

Gordon allowed another bill– “Life Is a Human Right Act” –to become law without his signature.

Gordon said in the letter to Gray that “he withheld his signature from the broader abortion ban because he feared it would complicate matters in an ongoing legal battle over an earlier abortion ban [House Bill 92] passed by Wyoming legislators.”  

Gordon wrote

I understand the Legislature’s effort to improve Wyoming’s pro-life legal framework and preemptively clarify some of these legal questions. However, I believe this question needs to be decided as soon as possible so that the issue of abortion in Wyoming can be finally resolved.

There are exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and risk to the pregnant woman’s life or health.

As reported previously, Judge Melissa Owens issued an injunction that blocked enforcement of Wyoming’s House Bill 92 banning most abortions in the state. Passed in 2022, HB 92 states “that an abortion ‘shall not be performed, except when necessary to preserve the woman from a serious risk of death or of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function,’” according to Carrie Haderlie writing for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

“Since January, when newly elected legislatures began to convene for the first time since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision ended the national right to an abortion, more than 500 bills in states across the country have been proposed that are related to abortion,” Eric Lutz wrote for ABC News.

Categories: State Legislation
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