By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Fearing possible civil and criminal repercussions, Planned Parenthood of Montana on Thursday announced it will stop supplying abortion pills to Wyoming women once the state’s abortion ban takes effect.
Martha Fuller, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Montana, said in a staff email Thursday that the implications of providing abortion services to women from states where abortions are outlawed has forced the organization to halt such services, though it will still schedule surgical abortions regardless of state residency.
“The risks around cross-state provision of services are currently less than clear, with the potential for both civil and criminal action for providing abortions in states with bans,” the email said.
Virtually all Wyoming abortions in the past three years have been induced by medication.
Wyoming is one of 13 states with a “trigger ban” in place, that is, a law outlawing abortion following any decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the landmark abortion rights case Roe vs. Wade.
The Supreme Court did overturn the case on June 24, putting authority over abortions into the hands of the states rather than guaranteeing it as a fundamental right.
The Planned Parenthood email focused in on women from South Dakota, where a trigger ban already has taken effect.
“Patients from South Dakota (and other states with total bans CURRENTLY in effect – we are highlighting SD because we see a significant number of patients from there) will not be able to received (sic) medication abortion services at PPMT,” the email continued, adding that future patients will be required to show proof of residency.
“This was a hard decision to make, and I want you to know that it is based on protecting our providers and patients,” it said.
Fuller opined that the change would impact Indigenous women more than others.
PPMT on Friday did not take further questions, but sent Cowboy State Daily a prepared statement emphasizing that women still can receive in-clinic abortions in Montana.
Montana does not have a trigger ban in place.
All Wyo Abortions Chemical
Though South Dakota is currently contemplating legislation banning abortion pills, Wyoming’s trigger ban will link up with preexisting legal definitions to ban abortions induced by medication outright.
The pills in question are Mifepristone, which blocks pregnancy-sustaining hormone progesterone, and Misoprostol, which causes uterine contractions and bleeding. Taken together over several hours, the pills cause a woman to miscarry.
More than half of the abortions in the United States are induced through medication. But in Wyoming, practically all of them are.
In 2021, there were 98 abortions in Wyoming; all 98 were chemical abortions. In 2020, 88 out of 91 abortions were chemically induced, and in 2019, the figure was 31 out of 31.
The procedure is approved for women who are less than 11 weeks pregnant and in consequence, all abortions reported in Wyoming for the past three years, except for one “unknown,” occurred before 11 weeks’ gestation.
Nation’s Top Prosecutor
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, who oversees all federal prosecutors in the nation, vowed Friday to maintain abortion access as much as he’s able.
Garland also said that states “may not” ban abortion pill Mifepristone because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already has approved the drug.
However, whether states can ban FDA-approved abortion pills completely is not yet settled law, and is yet another post-Roe question in need of judicial review, the Washington Post reported in May.
“We don’t know how the court would rule. It’s an open question,” Patti Zettler, associate professor of Ohio State University, told the Post.
The University of Wyoming law school faculty has not been responding to questions relating to new abortion laws, UW spokesman Chad Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.
“Nobody is willing to talk about it,” said Baldwin. “I’ve looked and just nobody seems either able or willing to opine on issues, including the one you’ve just described.”
The school’s pharmacy also did not immediately respond to a voicemail requesting comment.