A federal judge sentenced a woman to a minimum of five years in prison and an additional three years probation for breaking into and setting fire to a full-service abortion clinic in Wyoming last year.
Lorna Roxanne Green was formally charged with arson, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and restitution fees after burning the Wellspring Health Access clinic in Casper on May 25, 2022, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
Green, a 22-year-old Casper College mechanical engineering student, pleaded guilty to the charges in July before U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson.
According to court filings, Green told investigators she opposed abortion and experienced nightmares about the life-ending procedure, which “she attributed to her anxiety about the abortion clinic opening, so she decided to burn the building,” which was under construction at the time and had planned to offer OB/GYN services, “gender-affirming care,” and abortion procedures.
“No matter what an individual’s opinions or objectives may be, the use of violence and property destruction to advance them is never acceptable,” U.S. Attorney Nicholas Vassallo said. “This was a reckless and serious crime which endangered the community and caused significant financial harm to the clinic’s owner.”
Green told a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent she purchased gas cans and aluminum pans the day before the fire, drove to Casper, and brought them into the facility in a bag, according to a court filing.
Authorities said she entered the facility by breaking a window using a rock and poured gasoline inside just before escaping. Officers observed smoke coming from the east side of the building and immediately dispatched the Casper Fire Department to extinguish the fire.
Nearly a year later, Green admitted to setting fire to the facility following her arrest on March 21, 2023, by local and federal authorities who identified her through witness accounts and video surveillance. The Associated Press reported that investigators made progress after increasing a reward for information to $150,000.
A federal grand jury indicted her in May.
“While I deeply regret my actions, I accept full responsibility for what I have done,” Green said during the plea hearing, adding she knew her choice was wrong “right after.”
Green set fire to the clinic weeks before it was scheduled to open, which caused almost $30,000 in damages and further delayed its opening for nearly another year. The facility performs surgical abortions and offers pill abortions to women to end their child’s life.
President Julie Burkhart of the facility reportedly said Thursday that she was “heartened” Green took responsibility.
“It saddens me that someone so young could commit such a heinous act that was so reckless and could have killed people,” Burkhart said.
Abortion is banned throughout varying stages of pregnancy in more than a dozen states, which have different exceptions depending on the state, and certain restrictions in other states are currently not in effect due to being stuck in court. Since the historic overturning of Roe v. Wade, at least 15 of the 50 states have completely banned abortion outright, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Wyoming lawmakers passed laws in 2022 and 2023 to make the life-ending procedure illegal, but a judge ruled to keep abortion legal while the state faces legal challenges.
Earlier this month, three pro-life advocates were faced with more than a decade in prison after a federal jury convicted them for conspiring to barricade themselves in a Washington, D.C.-based abortion clinic in 2020.