‘After Extensive Prayer,’ Wyoming Governor Bans Abortion Pills, Protects Most Children from Abortion
Wyoming became the first state to explicitly ban abortion pills the same day it enacted a pro-life law protecting nearly all unborn children and another act barring middle- and high-school-aged boys from participating in girls’ sports.
“After extensive prayer,” Governor Mark Gordon (R) signed a bill Friday that prevents abortionists from distributing “any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion,” except to protect the life or physical health of the mother, or for babies conceived in rape or incest. Abortionists who violate the law would be charged with a misdemeanor and penalized with six months in jail and/or a $9,000 fine.
“By passing this legislation, Wyoming made a clear statement that we wish to protect the unborn and women from these dangerous drugs that are used in the taking of an unborn child’s life through abortion,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Senator Tim Salazar (R-Riverton).
The Life Is a Human Right Act, which became law Sunday without Gordon’s signature, explicitly states that the constitutional right to life extends to all human beings.
“[F]rom conception, the unborn baby is a member of the human race,” and “all members of the human race are created equal,” the law says. The legislation echoes constitutional guarantees in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments by saying that “no person may be deprived of life or liberty without due process of law.” Abortions may take place only to save the life of the mother (explicitly including treating an ectopic pregnancy), if the child is conceived in rape or incest, or if the child has a “lethal fetal anomaly.”
Abortionists who kill an unborn child would commit a felony worthy of up to five years in prison, or a $20,000 fine, “or both,” as well as potentially losing his medical license. It also creates a right of action for mothers who suffered an abortion, or her parents if she is a minor or deceased, for $10,000 in statutory damages, as well as “actual and punitive damages.”
Both bills state the mother who underwent the abortion shall not be prosecuted.
“All states — including Wyoming — have valid interests in preserving unborn life, as well as a duty to protect the health and safety of women. Women deserve real health care, and unborn babies deserve a chance to live,” said Denise Burke, a senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom. “We commend Wyoming for taking the opportunity to affirm that life is a human right.”
Gordon wrote in a letter on Friday that the life-affirming bill “will become law without my signature,” saying he believes questions about abortion “should be vetted through the [state constitutional] amendment process” and “voted on directly by the people.” Gordon said the Life Is a Human Right Act would have “unforeseen consequences,” serving only to “complicate and delay” pending legal action over whether the state constitution contains a heretofore-unknown right to abortion.
Wyoming Ninth District Court Judge Melissa Owens halted Wyoming’s pro-life trigger law, which protected nearly all children from abortion, last August, writing that its pro-life protections violated “the constitutionally protected right to make one’s own health care decisions.” Owens was appointed by Gordon.
Yet “after extensive prayer,” Gordon wrote Friday, he chose “to allow these bills to become law.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wyoming denounced the bill codifying children’s constitutional liberties on the grounds that “banning abortion leaves many with no other option than to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth.” Abortionist Julie Burkhart, who sought to open an abortion facility in Casper, told the Associated Press she felt “dismayed and outraged that these laws would eradicate” her business plans.
But pro-life advocates cheered the abortion pill ban. “Contrary to the abortion industry’s latest talking points, abortion is not ‘health care,’” stated Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “Whether the abortion is surgical or chemical, the abortionist’s intention is the deliberate destruction of a living, unborn baby.” Students for Life Action noted it supported the bill’s passage with “more than 1,400 doors knocked in the past two weeks, along with thousands of voter contact phone calls and texts.”
The same day Wyoming became the first in the nation to pass legislation on the issue of abortion pills, it became the 19th state to prevent male athletes from participating in female sports in grades 7-12. Gordon allowed the bill to become law without his signature, opining that the legislation — sponsored by coach-turned-state-senator Wendy Schuler — is “overly draconian,” “discriminatory,” and “pays little attention to fundamental principles of equality.”
Chemical abortion, involving the use of mifepristone and misoprostol, produces four times the level of harmful side effects for women as surgical abortion. Mifepristone has produced 4,207 documented adverse events, including 1,045 hospitalizations, 603 blood transfusions, and 26 deaths. Emergency room visits following a chemical abortion increased more than 500% from 2002 to 2015, as abortion pills came to account for 54% of all abortions, according to an analysis of Medicaid data performed by the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
Abortion-inducing pills are also associated with negative mental health outcomes. One out of every three women who experienced a chemical abortion “reported an adverse change in themselves, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and thoughts of suicide,” according to Support After Abortion’s survey of 14,000 women.
The U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk held oral arguments last week in a case that could revoke the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, ending the present chemical abortion regime nationwide. Until he renders his decision, “Wyoming’s new law will limit the abortion industry’s ability to jeopardize the health and safety of women and girls,” said SBA Pro-Life America’s Western Regional Director Adam Schwend.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.