Opening an abortion clinic in a state can definitely ban abortion after the Supreme Court is overturned. Ro v. Wade Can be seen as a pointless exercise. However, the opposite is true: it is a sign of optimism and perseverance, and acknowledges the fact that where abortion is prohibited, demand for other reproductive health services will be higher.
“We owe it to people to follow this path and do everything possible,” said Julie Burkhardt, founder and president of Well Spring Health Access, a new organization working to open a clinic in Casper, Wyoming.
Prior to the founding of Well Spring, Burkhardt founded and ran Trust Women, which runs clinics in Kansas and Oklahoma. According to Christie Burkhardt, chief operating officer at Well Springs, it was a fundraiser from the Wyoming Abortion Fund Chelsea that approached her sister Julie to open a clinic in the state.
For decades, Wyoming had only one abortion provider, located in Jackson, a popular vacation spot in the northwestern corner of the state. Since February, however, the state has been without abortion services due to a contract dispute between longtime provider Dr. Brent Blue and the local hospital system St. John’s Health.
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Currently, another Jackson doctor prescribes abortion drugs, such as the telemedicine service Just the Pill. For abortion at the clinic, the closest options for Wyoming residents are in Colorado, Utah, or Montana. Geographically, most Womingites have always lived near clinics outside the state. Caspar, on the other hand, is more central. It is also easily accessible from major highways, potentially improving access to abortion for many people in South Dakota and Nebraska.
But it is unlikely that the new Well Springs clinic will ever be able to provide abortion. In March, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) signed a “trigger” ban that would automatically declare abortion illegal within five days of the Supreme Court closing. cotton wool. The Caspar Clinic was set to open this month, possibly allowing up to a few weeks of abortion care, depending on the timing of the court’s decision. Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. But then, on the morning of May 25, the clinic was badly damaged by fire. Local and federal authorities are investigating the incident as a fire.
“It was very clear that the fire came from a specific place, with an excellence,” said Julie Burkhardt. “Temporarily, what we are seeing is again about six months of clinic rehabilitation. It will be much more work than we initially had to do.
On Thursday, the Caspian Police Department released surveillance photos and video of the suspect, who appears to be a white woman and was seen fleeing the scene by a witness.
“It was not about the safety of life; we had an apartment building where people were sleeping. It was done on purpose, “said Burkhardt. “It’s about power.”
Fortunately, Val Spring rented the building from a supporter who bought it specifically for the clinic. The clinic will be able to rebuild and reopen, and in the meantime are looking to work from a temporary location – if they can find a co-owner. “We don’t need any more headaches,” Burkhart said. Members of the Community Advisory Committee, on which Val Spring has relied on the entire process of entering the state, are helping to find a place.
“The fire has not stopped us. We will move on.”
– Christy Burkhardt, Chief Operating Officer of Well Springs
When rebuilt, the clinic will open regardless of whether it is able to provide abortion. It will offer gynecological care, family planning services, and gender verification care, all of which are in demand. Wyoming is the second least populous state after Alaska, and because it is so large, rural, and mountainous, many of its inhabitants have to travel long distances for all kinds of health care.
“Caspar is working on building a holistic medical community in the city, so it’s a center and a destination for medical care,” Burkhart said.
And while the fire may be seen as a sign of wider hostility towards the clinic, it is not so simple. I was born and raised in Wyoming, and for most of my life, the conservatives in the state’s “small government” really had no interest in intervening in favor of abortionists. Compared to other Red States, Wyoming has relatively few major abortion restrictions on books: parental inclusion laws, except for life-threatening or serious health risks, except when abortions are enforceable, And a ban on public funding for abortion. Exceptions Like other Mountain West states, Wyoming’s politics have long been more liberal.
However, as the Republican Party shifts further to the right, further sanctions have been introduced by the state legislature. In 2017, Woming adopted its first new abortion ban in almost 30 years, requiring providers to offer ultrasound before abortion. In 2019, lawmakers added penalties for non-compliance with state abortion reporting requirements. In 2020, the State House passed a bill requiring a 48-hour delay, although it died in the State Senate Committee. The swift approval of the trigger ban, signed by the governor just a month after it was introduced into the legislature, was out of character for Womming.
“After all this, we didn’t feel it was enough to stop us. Wyoming is a great state, and it needs reproductive health care. I think some of these elected officials really People are out of step, “said Burkhardt.
“If there is a doctor out there who is interested in living and providing services in Mountain West, we will need doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants who are interested in working with us.”
Christie Burkhardt added that when the news of the clinic’s inauguration broke in April, support was almost overwhelming. More than 70 people volunteered.
Well Spring is raising funds to meet its reconstruction needs, including replacing some of the furnishings and equipment that had already moved into space.
“The fire didn’t stop us,” said Christie Burkhardt. “We will move on.”