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Wyoming becomes the first state to outlaw abortion pills

Wyoming has become the first state to ban abortion pills, as anti-abortion legislation continues to gain momentum nationwide.

Gov. Mark Gordon gives his state of the state address during the 2022 Wyoming State Legislature's joint session. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Today, Wyoming set a precedent as the first state to outlaw abortion pills.

Governor Mark Gordon signed the abortion pill ban while also allowing another, broader measure banning abortion to become law without his signature. That law, which takes effect on Sunday, makes it a felony to provide an abortion in almost all circumstances.

Gordon said in a letter that he decided not to sign the broader abortion ban because he was concerned it would complicate an ongoing legal fight regarding an earlier abortion ban passed by the legislature.

“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 wrote.

The broader ban criminalizes medication abortion as well, and the measure that bans abortion pills would add extra penalties for medication abortion providers.

Though Wyoming is the first state to codify a ban or add restrictions on medication abortions, it isn’t the first state to discuss such a measure this year. Proposed legislation has been seen in several states, including a bill in Texas that would outlaw abortion pills and require internet service providers to take measures to block medication abortion websites.

The abortion pill ban would take effect July 1 and would make it illegal to “prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion.”

Anyone found guilty of violating this law, including doctors, would be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in prison and a $9,000 fine. The law states that pregnant patients will be exempt from charges and penalties.

“I have acted without bias and after extensive prayer, to allow these bills to become law,” Gordon wrote in his letter.

In his final actions on bills passed during the 2023 General Legislative session, the governor also exercised his line-item veto authority on the following bills:

  • HEA0091 HB0195 American rescue plan act appropriations – amendments.
  • SEA0084 SF0146 State-funded capital construction.
  • SEA0097 SF0096 Omnibus water bill – planning and administration.

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