Casper Abortion Clinic Says Pro-Lifers Kidnapped Patient

Casper police were unable to corroborate an abortion clinic’s assertion Tuesday that pro-lifers unlawfully confined the clinic’s patient while she tried to get to her abortion appointment.

CM
Clair McFarland

June 14, 20234 min read

Wellspring Health Access in Casper.
Wellspring Health Access in Casper. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Casper police were unable to corroborate an abortion clinic’s assertion Tuesday that pro-lifers unlawfully confined the clinic’s patient while she tried to get to her abortion appointment.  

A woman went to Wellspring Health Access for an abortion Thursday, Wellspring Health Access communications strategist Lauren Rankin told Cowboy State Daily in a Tuesday phone interview.  

As the woman approached the abortion clinic on East Second Street in Casper, workers or volunteers from a crisis pregnancy center allegedly urged the woman and her significant other into a vehicle, then locked them in a room at a new crisis pregnancy center nearby, Rankin said. 

“They locked her and her significant other in a room and would not allow them to leave,” Rankin said. “They were telling them fear-mongering things about abortion. Eventually, the patient’s (significant other) had to physically move them and unlock the door for them to leave.”  

The pair went back to the clinic and the woman had an abortion, Rankin said.  

The Casper crisis pregnancy center Rankin implicated did not respond by Wednesday to a Tuesday request for comment.  

Absent police corroboration, Cowboy State Daily has opted not to identify the group by name.  

No Police Report

The Casper Police Department had no report of the alleged kidnapping.  

The only report relating to the abortion clinic from Thursday was a citizen complaint of peaceful protesters blocking the roadway, said Amber Freestone, Casper Police Department spokeswoman.  

“We have no reports of any kidnappings, abductions, anything,” said Freestone. “There wasn’t a report filed.”  

Both Freestone and Rankin later clarified that unless someone involved in the alleged confinement or the woman herself reports the incident to police, the agency can’t make a report of it.  

A Wellspring administrator emailed police about the incident Thursday, Rankin told Cowboy State Daily, but the woman who had the abortion did not file her own report. 

Rankin declined to give a Cowboy State Daily reporter’s cellphone number to the patient.  

“We understand there’s very little (police) can do in terms of filing a report if the patient doesn’t want to speak to them about what happened or hasn’t spoken with them,” said Rankin.  

Casper police have been dutiful toward the clinic, Rankin added.  

“In all our interactions with the Casper Police Department they’ve been responsive and considerate, and we appreciate them and their continued enforcement of the law at our facility,” she said.   

'Outraged'

Julie Burkhart, president of Wellspring Health Access, also sent a comment on the alleged incident via Rankin.  

“We are outraged that one of our patients was deceived, intercepted and allegedly held against her will by anti-abortion extremists, all because she wanted to access a safe, legal health care procedure,” said Burkhart. “It is unacceptable that anyone, let alone people who claim to be ‘pro-life,’ would subject someone to this kind of trauma. Regardless of how you personally feel about abortion, everyone has the right to bodily autonomy and the right to personal freedom.” 

Abortion is legal in Wyoming while Wellspring and other abortion advocates are suing the state over its recently-passed abortion bans.  

But the Wyoming courts system has not yet characterized abortion as a health-care right. 

Teton County District Court Judge Melissa Owens in an order last year, however, indicated that she will likely characterize abortion as health care in future rulings. If Owens does so, she will next have to determine the extent of the Legislature’s authority to restrict abortion.  

Burkhart said in her statement to Cowboy State Daily that Wellspring will “continue to work to ensure that our patients are able to access safe, legal abortion care with as few hurdles as possible.” 

Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter