Ellen Gerst Casper Star-Tribune
A bill would make it illegal to distribute or take abortion pills in Wyoming.
Senate Docket 83, if passed in its current form, would also make the use or supply of these pills a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $9,000. Almost all abortions in Wyoming since mid-2019, when reporting requirements began, have used this type of drug.
Since the bill is being introduced in a budget session, it will require a two-thirds introductory vote to be heard.
It’s essentially the same bill introduced by sponsor Sen. Tim Salazar, R-Riverton, last year. This attempt died after passing the Senate.
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According to the first bill, it would be illegal to “manufacture, distribute, prescribe, dispense, sell, transfer or use any abortive chemical drug,” including RU-486, misoprostol, mifeprex and others. It provides some limited exceptions to this rule that would allow the use of drugs to save the life of the pregnant person, to treat a natural miscarriage or before becoming pregnant.
Post-viability abortions — when the fetus could survive outside the womb — were banned in Wyoming in 2019, though only one clinic in the state openly offers the procedure. State funds cannot be used for abortions in Wyoming, per law, and the state’s health department collects detailed data on which ones are performed.
According to the most recent data, 91 abortions were performed in Wyoming in 2020. All but three said they used drugs rather than surgery, and all were performed before 10 weeks.
Since a December 2021 decision, the FDA has allowed the distribution of abortion pills by mail without an in-person medical visit. Pills can be prescribed during a telehealth call and ordered online in some cases.
Another abortion bill is on the table this session, a “trigger bill” that would ban abortion in Wyoming if Roe v. Wade was rejected by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Many other states, including Utah, Texas, South and North Dakota, already have trigger laws in place. The Wyoming bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody, said she worked with national anti-abortion law firm Americans United for Life to draft the bill.
“The vast majority of people in Wyoming support life from conception to natural death and this proactive legislation will pave the way for what we can only hope will be the court’s recognition that all life, at any stage , is valuable,” Rodriguez-Williams said in an email Monday.
A 2015 study from the University of Wyoming found that about 45% of people oppose abortion and 55% support it.
The study found that registered Republicans in the state were more strongly opposed to abortion in the early 2010s than in the early 1990s, while Democrats grew more supportive during that time.