Since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022, the debate over reproductive freedom has become more and more focused on medical abortion. Pregnant women can securely end pregnancies using only medicine with the help of the two-pill regimen. The method now accounts for 54% of abortions performed nationally since the FDA approved one of the drugs used, mifepristone, in 2000.
Because of this, opponents of abortion see it as a danger and are working to get mifepristone off the market all over the United States. That is the aim of a lawsuit the Alliance Defending Freedom brought in November 2022. (ADF). The FDA is being sued by the ADF to revoke the agency’s clearance of mifepristone. If the lawsuit is effective, it may severely restrict access to abortion pills.
The pills are already banned in 13 states with blanket bans on all forms of abortion, and 15 states already have limited access to abortion pills.
Medication abortions became the preferred method for ending pregnancies in the US even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, the ruling that protected the right to abortion for nearly 50 years. A two-pill combination of mifepristone and another drug is the most common form of abortion in the US.
Wyoming’s ban on abortion pills would take effect in July, pending any legal action that could delay that. The implementation date of the sweeping legislation banning all abortions that Gordon allowed to go into law is not specified in the bill.
In a statement, Gordon expressed concern that the latter law, dubbed the Life is a Human Right Act, would result in a lawsuit that will “delay any resolution to the constitutionality of the abortion ban in Wyoming”.
He noted that earlier in the day, plaintiffs in a continuing lawsuit filed a challenge to the new law in the event he did not issue a veto.
“I believe this question needs to be decided as soon as possible so that the issue of abortion in Wyoming can be finally resolved, and that is best done with a vote of the people,” Gordon, a Republican, said in a statement.
‘Health, not politics’
In a statement, Wyoming American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Advocacy Director Antonio Serrano criticised Gordon’s decision to sign the bill.
“A person’s health, not politics, should guide important medical decisions – including the decision to have an abortion,” Serrano said.
Of the 15 states that have limited access to the pills, six require an in-person physician visit. Those laws could withstand court challenges; states have long had authority over how physicians, pharmacists and other providers practise medicine.
States also set the rules for telemedicine consultations used to prescribe medications. Generally, that means health providers in states with restrictions on abortion pills could face penalties, such as fines or licence suspension, for trying to send pills through the mail.
Women have already been travelling across state lines to places where abortion pill access is easier. That trend is expected to increase.
Since the reversal of Roe last June, abortion restrictions have been up to states, and the landscape has shifted quickly. Thirteen states are now enforcing bans on abortion at any point in pregnancy, and one more, Georgia, bans it once cardiac activity can be detected or at about six weeks’ gestation.
Courts have put on hold enforcement of abortion bans or deep restrictions in Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming. Idaho courts have forced the state to allow abortions during medical emergencies.
Gordon, the Wyoming governor, said he would not back down in the fight against abortion.