Wyoming police have increased the reward for information leading to the arrest of an arsonist who attacked a Casper, Wyo., abortion clinic on May 25, 2022. Anyone who provides information leading to the apprehension and prosecution of the arsonist will receive a cash prize of $15,000—up from $5,000 previously. The Casper Police Department has established a specific tip line and email address for individuals to provide information regarding this particular crime: Call 307-920-2862 or email PDTips@casperwy.gov, and leave as much detailed information as possible.
Those leaving tips can do so anonymously, but to eventually to claim the reward, identifying information is needed. “We can work to keep you anonymous with the suspect and the press, but we will need to know who gave us the information in order for the tipster to receive the reward,” said Bullard.
According to Casper police, at 3:49 a.m. on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, they responded to a report of a business burglary. The caller told police they heard glass break behind their residence and witnessed an individual leaving the area carrying a gas can and a black bag.
Upon arrival, officers located a broken window on the north side of the business building and observed smoke coming from the northeast corner of the building. The fire, located in the west side of the building, was eventually extinguished by fire crews.
The clinic, Wellspring Health Access, was scheduled to open last June, but its opening was delayed after the building fire.
“We know there is someone out there with information about who committed this crime,” said Lt. Jeff Bullard of the Casper Police Department. “Someone either has to recognize the person in these pictures or has firsthand knowledge of what happened that night. … Crimes like these have an impact on our entire community and we will exhaust every resource to hold offenders accountable.
Abortion is currently legal in Wyoming, but access is limited: Wyoming currently has just one abortion clinic, Women’s Health and Family Care in Jackson, and it only offers medication abortions, rather than surgical. Once officially opened, Wellspring Health Access will be only the second abortion clinic in the state and the only one offering both medication and surgical abortions.
Wellspring Health Access’ location in Casper was strategically designed, “so that people in areas of low access states such as western Nebraska, western South Dakota, and the southeastern corner of Montana will be able to more easily access health care services,” according to the clinic’s website.
“We will be the only procedural abortion clinic in the state, but looking at the state statutes, looking at the state constitution, we felt that Wyoming was worth the risk,” said Julie Burkhart, president and founder of the Wellspring Health Access, in November. “Wyoming, like any other state in the nation, is worth defending when it comes to abortion rights because if people aren’t freely … able to exercise their rights, that says something about our democracy and our democratic values. The midterms really solidified my feeling in that we are in the right path.”
Wyoming was one of 13 states with a “trigger ban”—preexisting laws that severely limit or end access to abortion, which only take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned at the federal level. However, in July, a district judge granted a temporary injunction against the ban.
But now, Wyoming may become an anti-abortion state in the end: Last week, both houses of the state legislature passed two bills on abortion—one banning the procedure entirely (except in cases of rape or incest) and another criminalizing medication abortion. They both await the signature of Gov. Mark Gordon (R), who is historically anti-abortion.
Abortion clinics are frequent targets of anti-abortion extremism, and violence against clinics is on the rise: Thirty-one percent of clinics surveyed in 2022 reported experiencing one or more incidents of severe violence or threats, and 32.6 percent of these reported three or more incidents—including blocking clinic access, invasions, bombings, arson, chemical attacks, stalking, physical violence, gunfire, bomb threats, death threats and arson threats. National Abortion Federation statistics from 2021 show a significant increase in stalking (600 percent), blockades (450 percent), hoax devices/suspicious packages (163 percent), invasions (129 percent) and assault and battery (128 percent).
“Despite these setbacks, we are undeterred in our mission to give the people of Casper access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care,” said Burkhart.
U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.