Wyoming Republican Governor Mark Gordon signed a new law banning the abortion pill. The law is the first specific one in the U.S. to make it "unlawful to prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion" in the state. The new legislation establishes penalties of up to six months imprisonment and fines of $9,000. Women who take abortion pills are exempt from criminal liability.
The law focuses on those who distribute the abortion pill and does not criminalize women who take it. It allows women to take medications necessary to treat a miscarriage, and the prescription of abortifacient medications in case the mother's health is endangered. The text specifies that it must be an "imminent peril" to the mother's health. The risk must be "physical" and does not include "any psychological or emotional condition."
Abortion law update
In addition, Gordon stated that he allowed another anti-abortion bill to become law without his signature. This second initiative updates an earlier law that is blocked in the courts. The new text will ban the procedure in all cases except in cases of rape, incest, a lethal fetal anomaly that prevents the survival of the fetus and to protect the life of the mother.
This law, which also prohibits the distribution or sale of anti-abortion pills, proposes penalties of up to $20,000, five years imprisonment, or both. Gordon acknowledged that discrepancies in the penalty clauses of the two bills could be problematic. "I have to assume that the legislature understood that these inconsistencies could create confusion regarding restrictions on abortion," since both bills were passed by state lawmakers, he said.
Gordon calls for a referendum on abortion
According to the governor, lawmakers have been continually making "little tweaks" to the state abortion law each year, delaying a final court decision on the constitutionality of abortion in Wyoming. For this reason, he expressed his intention to hold a referendum on the matter. "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," he said.