On March 10, 2021, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed a bill that prohibits the sale and administration of abortion-inducing drugs in the state, making Wyoming the latest in a series of states to enact stricter laws on abortion. The bill, known as House Bill 116, proposes stringent regulations on the delivery of medication-induced abortions as compared to surgical ones.

This law aims to limit the access to abortion-inducing drugs, which can be sold as a kit containing two pills – mifepristone and misoprostol. The two pills are taken 24 to 48 hours apart to induce an abortion but are only effective within the first nine weeks of pregnancy.

The bill won 23 votes in the Wyoming House of Representatives with 36 in the favor and one abstention, and 27 votes in the Wyoming Senate with 3 opposing and zero abstentions. Governor Gordon, upon signing the bill, said, “This legislation is a product of thoughtful and extensive deliberation by the legislature. I am confident that it was well vetted before making its way to my desk for signature.”

The bill’s proponents point out it aims to protect women’s health while reducing abortion rates. Representative Sue Wilson of Cheyenne, the bill’s sponsor, claimed that medication-induced abortions pose a greater risk than surgical procedures, and a doctor’s presence throughout the procedure is essential. There have been several cases in the past where women have lost their lives due to complications during medication-induced abortions. However, these cases are rare and are not consistent with the available data.

Critics claim that the bill disrespects a woman’s right to choose and places undue obstacles on those seeking abortions; for instance, by requiring physicians to be present throughout the medication-induced abortion process. The new law also means that pregnant individuals seeking an abortion will have to travel out of state to receive healthcare services, which is a problematic investment of both time and resources.

Wyoming is often considered a conservative state with a history of rejecting even more lenient abortion legislation. Thus, it’s surprising that the Wyoming legislature has taken a stand to limit abortions in the state, particularly medication-induced ones.

The new law aims to limit women’s access to comprehensive health services but fails to address the economic, social, and political factors that play a crucial role in shaping women’s reproductive health. It ignores the fact that almost a quarter of Wyoming’s residents live in rural areas that are medically underserved. The law also disregards the role that influences the decision-making process of pregnant individuals seeking abortions, such as financial security, social support, racism, patriarchy, and misogyny.

While medication-induced abortions are quite safe, Wyoming pro-life advocates insist that the ban protects women’s health. The most significant argument held by those opposing medication-induced abortion is that it can “cause more pain and is scarier than a surgical abortion.” This argument does not make sense since the pain accompanying a medication-induced abortion is comparable to that of a heavy period.

One of the biggest reasons for this bill’s passage is the ongoing battle in Congress over the Freedom of Choice Act. This Act, if passed, would federally protect the legal right to have an abortion, voiding state abortion restrictions such as Wyoming’s latest abortion ban. Governor Gordon, in a news conference, stated that he supports the bill, noting that he believes that this new law is more in line with Wyoming values.

In conclusion, Wyoming’s latest abortion ban is part of a broader trend in the United States to restrict access to abortion. However, it is essential to know that governments’ actions to limit a woman’s right to choose abortion are deeply problematic. Such a law not only disrespects individual freedoms, but it also makes it more challenging for women to receive comprehensive healthcare services. Wyoming’s latest abortion ban will have long-lasting and adverse effects on the health, well-being, and autonomy of the state’s women, particularly those who are most vulnerable, and it is our role to recognize and fight against such injustices.