CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — An abortion opponent who broke into and burned what was to be Wyoming’s first full-service abortion clinic in at least a decade, delaying its opening by almost a year, was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison and three years probation.
Lorna Roxanne Green faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty in July to setting the fire at Wellspring Health Access in Casper. She expressed regret and took full responsibility for the arson at the plea hearing. The five-year sentence is the mandatory minimum. She also has been ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined at a later date.
Green told investigators she opposed abortion and that anxiety and nightmares about the clinic caused her to burn it.
The May 2022 fire happened weeks before the clinic was to open. Extensive damage to the building being remodeled for the clinic kept it from opening for almost a year.
Green admitted to breaking in, pouring gasoline around the inside of the building and lighting it on fire, according to court documents.
The Casper College mechanical engineering student showed no sign of anti-abortion views on social media but told investigators she opposed abortion.
She told a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent she bought gas cans and aluminum pans the day before the fire, drove to Casper, and carried the cans and pans to the clinic in a bag, matching security video and a witness account, according to a court filing.
She admitted using a rock to break glass in a door to enter and pouring gasoline into the pans in several rooms and on the floor before lighting it, according to the document.
Investigators said they made little progress finding who started the fire until a reward was increased to $15,000 in March, leading several tipsters to identify Green.
The clinic, which opened in April, provides surgical and pill abortions, making it the first of its kind in the state in at least a decade. Only one other clinic in Wyoming — in Jackson, some 250 miles (400 kilometers) away — provides abortions, and only by pill.
Laws passed in Wyoming in 2022 and 2023 sought to make abortion in the state illegal but a judge has kept abortion legal while a lawsuit challenging the new laws proceeds. One of the new Wyoming laws to ban any drug used to cause an abortion would be the nation’s first explicit ban on abortion pills.
Teton County District Judge Melissa Owens has expressed sympathy with arguments that a 2012 state constitutional amendment guaranteeing Wyoming residents’ right to make their own health care decisions conflicted with the bans.
Though abortion in Wyoming has remained legal, women in the rural state often go to nearby states, including Colorado, for abortions.