Health

Fire damages Wyoming abortion clinic ahead of June opening

Fitness & Health:

CASPER, Wyo. — An overnight Wyoming fire on Wednesday damaged a building that was being renovated to house a new abortion clinic in the conservative state where opposition to abortion is widespread.

No one was hurt in the blaze in Casper, Wyoming’s second-biggest city, said Julie Burkhart, the clinic’s director, who added that clinic organizers had been receiving harassing emails and telephone messages

Casper Police spokeswoman Rebekah Ladd didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking information about the blaze and her agency had not released any information Wednesday morning about what caused the fire.

The clinic, which was also planned to provide other health care services for women, had been set to open in June as only the second place in the state to offer abortions. Wyoming’s current lone location for women to get abortions is at a hospital in Jackson, 281 miles (452 kilometers) away.

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Protests have been held this spring by abortion opponents at the future clinic site and signs opposing abortion were visible Wednesday in a window of an apartment next door to the building.

Wyoming is one of 13 that would outlaw abortion if the Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. A leaked draft of a ruling suggests that will happen soon.

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The new Wyoming clinic was being launched by Burkhart, a former associate Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider who was shot and killed in a Wichita, Kansas church in 2009.

Police closed off the street where the small building is located as officers investigated. Most of the building’s windows were broken out and smoke damage could be seen around one broken window.

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