(Headline USA) Wyoming has pushed to the front of state efforts to prohibit the most common type of abortion by instituting the nation’s first explicit ban on pills that help induce the death of pre-born babies.
So-called medication abortions became the preferred method for killing fetuses in the U.S. even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. They now account for more than half of all abortions according to the far-left, pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute.
More than a dozen states now effectively ban abortion pills by prohibiting all forms of abortion, moves made after a ruling last year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health overturned the nearly 50-year-old federal abortion mandate established under Roe by deeming it unconstitutional.
Fifteen states restrict access to the pills. Of those, six—Arizona, Indiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota and South Carolina—require a doctor to administer them in person. Arizona also bans mailing abortion pills.
But before a law signed Friday by Wyoming Republican Gov. Mark Gordon, no state specifically banned abortion pills.
The law passed alongside a new abortion ban that seeks to sidestep the legal loopholes in earlier state ban that’s been held up in court.
With two new abortion laws, the Wyoming Legislature was “kind of trying to cover all its bases” to prohibit abortions, said Elizabeth Nash with the Guttmacher Institute.
Gordon allowed the new ban to take effect Sunday without his signature.
Whether the abortion-pill ban he signed takes effect July 1 as planned remains to be seen. It could be delayed in the courts if an abortion provider in the state sues over it.
Last year, Gordon signed an abortion ban that took effect a month after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Within hours, Teton County District Judge Melissa Owens suspended the ban, ruling that a lawsuit’s claim it would harm pregnant women and their doctors could have merit.
The state’s lone clinic providing abortions until the ban was in the tourist mountain town of Jackson. Another clinic in Casper was set to open last year before an arson delayed plans.
The clinic, Wellspring Health Access, was hoping to open next month but those plans are now uncertain.
The two abortion clinics were plaintiffs in the case—along with four female activists, including two obstetricians. They argued that the ban violated a 2012 state constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to make one’s own healthcare decisions.
Attorneys for the state said that wasn’t the intent—the amendment passed in response to the Affordable Care Act seeking to impose a federal-government-run healthcare system nationwide.
This year, Wyoming lawmakers did an end-run around the lawsuit with a new, blanket abortion ban that specifies abortion is not healthcare, and therefore not protected by the state constitution.
An ongoing Texas lawsuit is also hoping to bring the matter of abortion pills before the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, most Republican-controlled states have adopted abortion bans or tighter restrictions, some of which have long been on the books in anticipation that Roe v. Wade would be overturned eventually.
This month, Utah passed a law to ban abortion clinics, making it the first state to take that action. It came as the state’s ban on abortions at all stages of pregnancies is held up by a legal challenge.
In Florida, lawmakers are trying to figure out what bans to put into place. Florida previously put into place a ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which is much looser than what other GOP-controlled states have done; a new measure to ban them after six weeks has been advancing through the Legislature. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a possible 2024 presidential candidate, is expected to sign it if it gets to him.
In South Carolina, also GOP-dominated, lawmakers are debating what kind of ban to try next after a ban on abortions after six weeks was rejected by the state’s activist court.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press