Wyoming leads in prohibiting abortion pill under new legislation

March 21, 2023 : Wyoming has become the first state in the US to explicitly ban pills used in medication abortions. The law, signed by Republican Governor Mark Gordon, passed alongside a broader abortion ban intended to cover all bases. More than a dozen states have effectively banned abortion pills through prohibitions on all forms of abortion, while 15 states restrict access to the pills. Of those, six require a doctor to administer them in person. Arizona also bans mailing abortion pills. The medication abortions account for over half of all US terminations. The Wyoming legislation follows the overturning of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling by the US Supreme Court.

In Wyoming, abortions in all forms became illegal on Sunday with the passing of the new broad abortion ban. However, a court hearing is set for Wednesday to determine whether a judge in Jackson, who suspended a previous ban, will also suspend this one. The state’s only clinic offering abortions until the ban was located in the tourist town of Jackson, while plans for another clinic in Casper are now uncertain. Women in Wyoming may travel out of state to obtain an abortion. Last year, Governor Gordon signed an abortion ban that went into effect a month after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, but a district judge suspended the ban after just hours.

Wyoming is traditionally a conservative state, but has been relatively free of social controversy until recently. With a state legislature now more dominated by Republicans than at any point in a century, leaders have been able to take up culture-war issues with hardly any opposition. Most Republican-controlled states have adopted abortion bans or tighter restrictions, anticipating the eventual overturning of Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, several Democrat-controlled states have adopted protections for abortion access. This month, Utah became the first state to pass a law banning abortion clinics altogether, while in Florida lawmakers are discussing what further bans to implement. South Carolina lawmakers are debating what kind of ban to attempt next, while in Minnesota, the governor signed additional protections for abortion access into law this year.