Update: On Wednesday, Mar. 22, Teton County District Court Judge Melissa Owens granted a temporary restraining order against the Life is a Human Right Act that went into effect Mar. 19. while a legal challenge against the state brought by abortion providers is considered. PHN will update as the case progresses.
Amid a nationwide debate surrounding chemical abortion pills, Wyoming has officially become the first state to ban chemical abortions.
On March 17, 2023, the governor of Wyoming, Mark Gordon, signed the Senate Enrolled Act No. 93 (SEA0093)/SF0109 - Prohibiting chemical abortions into law and allowed the Life is a Human Right Act to become law by default without his signature.
Banning abortion pills
The law signed Friday prohibits prescribing, dispensing, distributing, selling, or using any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion. However, the law, which will take effect on July 1, 2023, has some clarifications and exceptions.
For example, chemical abortions will still be allowed if needed to treat “a natural miscarriage” or preserve the mother's life from imminent peril, defined as a physical condition “that substantially endangers her life or health.” Chemical abortions will also be allowed if the pregnancy results from rape or incest. The bill also clarifies contraceptives and emergency contraceptives will not be banned since they are administered or taken before a confirmed pregnancy.
In addition, the law makes it clear that “a woman upon whom a chemical abortion is performed or attempted” will not be criminally prosecuted under this law. However, any physician or other person who violates the law will be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 6 months, a fine of up to $9,000, or both.
The Life is a Human Right Act
The abortion pill law received the most press given the nationwide debate regarding reversing the approval of abortion pills. However, Governor Mark Gordon also allowed the Life is a Human Right Act to become law by default.
The Life is a Human Right Act, which is effective immediately, will outlaw abortions with the exceptions of:
1. to save the life or health of the mother
2. to remove a dead child following a miscarriage
3. to treat an ectopic or molar pregnancy
4. to treat a woman for cancer or another disease in which the treatment may be harmful or cause the demise of the child
5. when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest and such has been reported to law enforcement before the abortion
6. when the baby has a lethal fetal anomaly
The Life is a Human Right Act will also make anyone who violates this act, aside from the mother of the child, guilty of a felony, punishable by up to $20,000, imprisonment for up to five years, or both.
Although the governor has a strong pro-life record, a letter to the Secretary of State of Wyoming explained he chose not to sign the Life is a Human Right Act, instead allowing it to become law without his signature or veto because it was the will of the legislature.
However, Gordon expressed concerns the new law would delay a final decision from the courts regarding the constitutionality of Wyoming’s trigger law, which has been tangled up in the courts and unable to take effect since last year due to a debate about whether abortion is protected under the guise of healthcare. In addition, he said that if the Wyoming legislature wants to “expressly address how the Wyoming Constitution treats abortion and defines healthcare” and have the citizens of Wyoming vote on an amendment to the state’s constitution to clarify the matter.
If this can be settled upon, it will prove that the Life is a Human Right Act, which is very similar to and will replace the trigger law, is constitutional and can remain in effect.
Current state of abortion in Wyoming
What do these laws mean for Wyoming?
The Life is a Human Right Act went into effect immediately, so abortion is not allowed in the state unless it’s needed to save the life or health of the mother, for treatment of miscarriage, molar, or ectopic pregnancy, the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement, or the baby has a lethal fetal anomaly. It is also legal for a woman to undergo treatment for another disease, even if treatment may be harmful or cause the child to die. However, the Life is a Human Right Act is expected to be challenged in court.
When the abortion pill ban takes effect on July 1, it will limit the use of the abortion pill to only the treatment of miscarriage, to save the life or health of the mother, or when the pregnancy results from rape or incest.
Additionally, the ratio of pregnancy resource centers to abortion centers is currently 1:13 in the state, with the Women’s Health & Family Care Clinic in Jackson being the only abortion facility in Wyoming.
Tweet This: Wyoming has passed a law prohibiting the prescribing/dispensing/distributing/selling/using any drug for procuring or performing an abortion
The impact of the Wyoming laws will not only save more babies but could have far-reaching effects and even influence an upcoming ruling.
Pro-life advocates hope that Governor Mark Gordon and the state of Wyoming taking a stand against chemical abortion pills, which now cause more than half of all abortions in the U.S., more states will join suit, including a federal judge in Texas who is expected to rule very soon regarding the safety and approval of mifepristone. The ruling in Texas could see the first pill in the abortion pill regimen have its FDA approval stripped nationwide or another huge change to its distribution.
Furthermore, pro-life advocates hope to see even stronger pro-life laws from the Wyoming Legislature that fight for the equality of all babies, including those conceived in rape or who receive life-limiting diagnoses.