In a recent court decision, Lorna Green, the woman responsible for setting fire to Wyoming’s sole full-service abortion clinic, has been directed by a judge to compensate nearly $300,000 in restitution. This sum aligns with the total sought by prosecutors to cover the damages resulting from the fire.
Green, presently serving a five-year prison sentence for the offense, intentionally burned Wellspring Health Access, the clinic scheduled to open in Casper in 2022. The fire extensively damaged the building and caused a nearly one-year delay in the clinic’s opening.
Wellspring, which opened its doors this past April, is now the only abortion clinic in Wyoming. Another clinic in Jackson that provided pill abortions was forced to close due to rising costs.
During the court hearing, U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson mandated that Green, aged 22, must reimburse approximately $298,000. This restitution comprises $240,000 for the clinic’s insurer, Nationwide General Insurance Company, $33,500 for the owner, of the destroyed building, Christine Lichtenfels, and $24,500 for the founder and president of Wellspring Health Access, Julie Burkhart. Burkhart expressed contentment with the restitution, noting that it provides a sense of closure to the financial hardships resulting from the arson.
Green’s attorney, Ryan Semerad, did not oppose the restitution amounts sought by prosecutors. In an emailed statement, Semerad mentioned that Green is looking forward to rebuilding her life after her term of incarceration.
While Green had not previously expressed anti-abortion sentiments on social media, she confessed to being against abortion. She attributed her motivation for committing the crime to anxiety and nightmares related to the planned clinic. Green traveled from Laramie to Casper, unlawfully entered the clinic, and ignited trays filled with gasoline that she had poured on the floor. The investigation faced delays, but an augmented reward of $15,000 generated tips that ultimately led to Green’s arrest in March.
In June, Green entered a guilty plea for arson and was subsequently given the minimum prison sentence in September. Despite the potential for a maximum sentence of up to 20 years, she received the minimum penalty for her actions.
The arson incident and the subsequent initiation of the clinic unfolded amidst the context of recent laws in Wyoming aimed at significantly limiting abortion access. Among these laws was the country’s inaugural explicit prohibition on abortion pills. Nevertheless, a judge has provisionally halted the enforcement of these laws in response to a lawsuit filed by four women and two non-profit organizations, which include Wellspring Health Access.
Wyoming District Judge Melissa Owens is reviewing the arguments in the lawsuit and will decide whether to rule on the laws. Regardless of her decision, it is likely that the case will be appealed, ultimately reaching the state Supreme Court, where Wyoming’s abortion laws will be closely examined.