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HomeNewsJudge Orders Woman Who Burned Wyoming’s Full-Service Abortion Clinic to Pay $298,000

Judge Orders Woman Who Burned Wyoming’s Full-Service Abortion Clinic to Pay $298,000

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Lorna Green and a Gavel
Source: @UltraDane/X Wikipedia

A judge has fined a young Wyoming woman $298,000 for burning down an abortion clinic. This is in addition to a 5-year prison sentence for the crime. 

In July 2023, Lorna Green admitted to setting the Wellspring Health Access building on fire. The clinic was to be Wyoming’s only full-service abortion clinic and a major source of joy to pro-choice advocates. 

Wyoming is one of America’s strictest states on the issue of abortion. The arson had taken place at a time when new laws seeking to ban abortion in all circumstances were in the works. 

The enactment of the law, which was to include America’s first clearcut ban on abortion pills, has since been stalled. A team of four women and two nonprofits, including Wellspring Health Access, had brought a lawsuit to challenge it. 

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A Wyoming district judge, Melissa Owens, has yet to decide whether to rule on the matter after she heard opening arguments. The case will likely progress to the state’s Supreme Court for appeal if she does. 

Also Read: How Many Acres Does the Largest Landowner In Wyoming Own?

The abortion facility served as a symbol of defiance and the brightest glimmer of hope for people who wanted women to choose. 

The fine included a payment of $240,000 to Nationwide General Insurance Company, which is the clinic’s insurance company. Other recipients included Julie Burkhart, the president and founder of the clinic, and Christine Lichtenfels, the owner of the building the clinic was to use. 

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The judge awarded $24,500 to Julie Burkhart, while Lichtenfels was to get $33,500 for the building’s damage. All the awards were the exact requests of the plaintiff’s lawyers. 

Green had set the clinic on fire in May 2022, just a few weeks before it was to open its doors for surgical and medication abortions. The building was still being renovated when Green, a Casper College mechanical engineering student, set it ablaze. 

POLL—Should Abortion Be Legal in Most Cases?

Green had driven from Laramie to Casper, where the clinic was located, to commit the crime. After breaking in through the clinic door, Green poured gasoline into trays. She then spattered the flammable liquid on the floor before setting the facility ablaze. 

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The building suffered significant destruction, and the clinic’s opening was extended by almost a year. 

The fire was a great setback for the clinic’s management and the building’s owner. “Not only did we have the emotional struggle and that trauma from the arson, but also it was quite challenging for us financially,” Burkhart lamented. “So I’m glad this is the final piece, and it has been put to rest,” she concluded, expressing her satisfaction. 

Also Read: Texas Women Denied Abortion Take to the Supreme Court

Although CCTV at the clinic captured the attack, Green wore a nose mask that concealed her face. Months after the incident, it appeared that the perpetrator would escape justice. But after investigators raised the reward to $15,000, someone responded with a tip that led to Green’s arrest. 

Green, who admitted to being anti-abortion, faced up to a maximum of 20 years in prison. She, however, got the 5-year minimum sentence. She told investigators that she had nightmares about the clinic’s openings and, consequently, had to burn the facility to find relief. 

The clinic has since opened as the only full-service abortion clinic in the Equality State. Interestingly, Wyoming got the nickname of being the first state to allow women to vote. 

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