Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed a bill Friday prohibiting abortion pills, making it the first state to ban abortion medication independent of an overall ban on abortion. Separate legislation, which Gordon did not sign but allowed to become law, put a near-total abortion ban into place.
The majority of abortions are performed with medication. Wyoming’s only clinic exclusively performs medication abortion and would be shut down by the new law, which goes into effect in July. Thirteen other states have bans on the medication, but also ban all abortions. Another 15 states have partially restricted access to the pills.
While the law wouldn’t affect doctors and clinics outside of Wyoming, the state does control who can offer online medical care to residents. That means it could limit their ability to get the medication through telehealth or Internet mail-order. (The law does not go as far as legislation pending in Texas which would make it a crime to host, create, or manage a website that provides information about or access to abortion medication.)
The abortion restrictions which Gordon allowed to become law without his signature would make performing the procedure a felony, leaving only narrow exceptions for cases involving rape, incest, or threat to the mother’s life. In a letter accompanying his signature on the medication bill, Gordon wrote that he “acted without bias and after extensive prayer, to allow these bills to become law.”
Earlier this week, a federal judge in Texas heard arguments in a case to ban the medication mifepristone, which is one of two drugs used in medical abortions—and which is banned by Wyoming’s new law. In that case, a Christian legal group has asked the judge to overturn the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug for use in medical abortions, saying the FDA didn’t consider all side effects when it approved it 23 years ago. The judge, a conservative Donald Trump appointee, appeared open to the idea and is poised to issue a ruling that could include a nationwide ban any day.