A woman who burned Wyoming's only full-service abortion clinic is ordered to pay $298,000
CHEYENNE, Wyo.– A judge has ordered a woman who set fire to Wyoming's only full-service abortion clinic to pay nearly $300,000 in restitution, the full amount sought by prosecutors.
Lorna Green is serving a five-year prison sentence for setting fire to Wellspring Health Access weeks before the Casper clinic was set to open in 2022. The fire destroyed the building while it was being renovated for the new clinic and delayed the opening by almost a year.
After opening last April, Wellspring is now the only abortion clinic in Wyoming. A Jackson clinic that provided pill abortions closed Dec. 15 due to rising costs.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson ordered Green, 22, to pay approximately $298,000 in restitution, including $240,000 to Nationwide General Insurance Company, the clinic's insurer.
Green must also pay $33,500 to the building owner, Christine Lichtenfels, and $24,500 to Julie Burkhart, founder and president of Wellspring Health Access. Burkhart expressed his satisfaction with the restitution.
“Not only did we have the emotional struggle and trauma of the arson, but it was also quite challenging for us financially. So I'm glad this is the last piece and it's been put aside,” Burkhart said Wednesday.
The restitution was identical to the amounts sought by prosecutors and was not opposed by Green's attorney, Ryan Semerad, who said in an emailed statement Wednesday that Green “looks forward to a productive and peaceful life after her prison sentence.” .”
Green has expressed remorse for the crime, which she said was caused by fear and nightmares about the planned clinic. The Casper College mechanical engineering student had not expressed anti-abortion views on social media, but told investigators she was against abortion.
She admitted to driving from Laramie to Casper, forcing her way into the clinic through a door and igniting gasoline, which she poured into containers and splashed on the floor. After months of little progress, investigators increased the reward to $15,000 and received tips that led to Green's arrest in March.
Green pleaded guilty to arson in June and received the minimum prison sentence in September. She faced a prison sentence of twenty years.
The arson and eventual opening of the clinic occurred as new laws in Wyoming sought to ban abortion in almost all cases. The laws, which include the nation's first explicit ban on abortion pills, have been suspended by a judge amid a lawsuit filed by four women and two nonprofits, including Wellspring Health Access.
After hearing arguments in the Dec. 14 lawsuit, Wyoming District Judge Melissa Owens is considering whether to rule on the laws. Her decision would likely be appealed, which would take Wyoming's abortion laws to the state Supreme Court.