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Wyoming Has Banned the Abortion Pill...

On Friday, Gov. Mark Gordon (R-WY) signed a bill making it illegal to prescribe, dispense, or sell mifepristone or other abortion pills. He said that he prayed for advice before signing the bill. Apparently he saw a green light in the sky. It's kind of like a burning bush for the 21st century. The penalty is 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $9,000.

Wyoming beat all the other states to the punch and is the first to adopt a law specifically banning medical abortions, but it won't be the last one. Other states ban abortions in general terms, but don't have laws precisely targeted at the use of abortion pills. The legislature wasn't willing to go whole hog and prosecute women for having an abortion, so they are exempt from criminal prosecution. Only doctors, pharmacists, etc. are potentially criminally liable. Wyoming has only one abortion clinic, in Jackson, and it provides only medical abortions, not surgical ones. It's not going to be around for long.

Needless to say, pro-choice groups have already filed suit. One complication here is that one of the abortion pills, misoprostol, has legitimate medical uses other than inducing abortions. By banning it, the state is prohibiting the treatment of conditions other than pregnancy. That could play a role in the eventual court decisions.

One problem with enforcing the law is that some of the providers of abortion pills are outside the reach of Wyoming law enforcement. For example, AidAccess is run out of the Netherlands by Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, who prescribes abortion pills by video consultation and has them shipped directly to the patient from a pharmacy in India. Also, the biggest city in Wyoming, Cheyenne, is only 45 miles from Fort Collins, CO, where abortion is legal. Conveniently the I-25 runs between the two cities. The second biggest city, Casper, WY, is farther north and a 3-hour drive from Fort Collins. (V)

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