CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A college student who authorities say admitted setting fire to a building slated to become Wyoming’s only full-service abortion clinic was scheduled to appear in federal court Friday to enter a plea to an arson charge.
Lorna Roxanne Green, 22, told investigators that she opposes abortion and was experiencing anxiety and having nightmares over the Wellspring Health Access clinic that was to open in Casper, Wyoming, last year, so she decided to burn it, according to court documents.
She broke a window, filled aluminum baking pans with gasoline and set it ablaze on May 25, 2022, investigators say. The clinic, which had drawn anti-abortion protesters, was scheduled to open a few weeks later but was not able to begin seeing patients until March because of the fire damage.
The facility is Wyoming’s only dedicated clinic in at least a decade to offer surgical abortions. It also offers abortion pills, women’s health care, family planning and gender-affirming health care, the clinic says.
Before Wellspring opened, only one other clinic in Wyoming — a women’s health center in Jackson, some 250 miles (400 kilometers) away — provided medication abortions.
Abortion remains legal in conservative Wyoming although lawmakers passed a law banning abortion except in cases of rape or incest reported to police, or when the mother’s life is in danger. However, a state judge put the ban on hold while an opposing lawsuit proceeds.
Wyoming also became the the first state to pass an explicit ban on abortion pills, which have been legal for decades and become the predominant choice for abortion in the U.S. The ban does not take effect until July 1.
Surveillance video released by police soon after the fire at the Casper facility captured a masked woman in a hooded shirt at the clinic building. But Green was not arrested until March after tipsters named her as a possible suspect following a reward increase to $15,000.
Green faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. Her attorney, Ryan Semerad, has said he looks forward to defending Green in court.