The legislation makes it “unlawful to prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion.” The law will take effect this summer.
Mifepristone is banned in the 13 states that have blanket bans on all forms of abortion, but the Wyoming law appears to be the first time a state has specifically targeted mifepristone.
Wyoming outlawed nearly all abortions when it passed a “trigger ban” after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, but the case is being challenged in court and a judge has halted its enforcement.
Wyoming’s new mifepristone law could be a model for other states looking for a workaround if other anti-abortion laws are overturned or paused.
Medication abortion has been available in the United States since 2000, when the FDA approved the use of mifepristone for early nonsurgical abortion. It has become an increasingly common method for ending pregnancies, especially in the wake of the end of Roe, and accounts for more than half of all abortions in the country.
Mifepristone is approved for abortion up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a group that tracks and advocates for better access to reproductive care, 15 states have enacted restrictions on access to the medication, like requiring the clinician providing a medication abortion to be physically present when the medication is administered.
Wyoming’s new law comes as a federal judge in Texas could rule at any time on a lawsuit challenging the FDA’s approval of mifepristone as unlawful. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a federal judge appointed by former President Trump, seems poised to decide if the FDA should rescind its approval. Such a move could disrupt access to mifepristone nationwide, even in states where abortion is legal.
Kacsmaryk’s decision will likely trigger a lengthy appeals process, and it’s not clear if access to the drug would be allowed as the appeal makes its way through the courts. The decision would be appealed to the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and could eventually reach the Supreme Court.