Wyoming governor signs legislation banning use of abortion pills

March 17 (Reuters) – Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday signed legislation banning the use or prescription of medicated abortion pills, which was passed by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature earlier this month.

Gordon, a Republican, signed the law into law as a federal judge in Texas is considering ordering a statewide ban on the abortion pill mifepristone in response to a lawsuit by anti-abortion groups.

The crux of Wyoming’s bipartite bill is a provision that would make it illegal “to prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell, or use any drug for the purpose of obtaining or performing an abortion.”

The ban does not apply to so-called “morning after pills”, prescription contraceptives that are taken after sex but before a pregnancy can be confirmed.

The measure also includes an exemption for any treatment necessary to protect a woman “from an imminent danger seriously endangering her life or health” and for any treatment for “a natural miscarriage in accordance with currently accepted medical guidelines”.

Violation of the prohibition is to be treated as a criminal offense punishable by up to six months in prison and a fine of up to US$9,000.

The measure provides that a woman “who has or attempted a chemical abortion will not be prosecuted.”

The governor said he would authorize, even without his signature, the enactment of a separate bill passed by state legislatures to ban conventional abortion procedures except as necessary to protect the health and life of the mother or in the case of rape or incest.

An exception is also allowed to terminate a pregnancy if doctors detect a fatal abnormality in the fetus.

Litigation over abortion rights has increased in the United States after a Supreme Court ruling last year overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade’s 1973 legalization of the process.

Gordon acknowledged that abortion advocates, who have already challenged Wyoming’s “trigger” abortion ban in place after the Roe v. Wade went into effect, have filed suit to preemptively block Wyoming’s newly enacted ban.

The governor expressed concern that passage of the new abortion ban could murmur legal waters and create a new obstacle to a speedy resolution of the matter by the courts.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Edited by Eric Beech

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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