By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Despite a leaked U.S. Supreme Court document indicating justices will reverse the landmark abortion rights case Roe V. Wade¸ a fledgling Casper abortion clinic still plans to open in June.
Julie Burkhart, founder of Wellspring Health Access, which was previously called Circle of Hope Health Care Services, released a statement Tuesday morning indicating that she and her team intend to fight any attempt to outlaw abortion – and they still intend to open the abortion clinic.
“Abortion remains legal in Wyoming,” reads Burkhart’s statement, calling the leaked opinion indicative of “a devastating blow to abortion access in Wyoming and across the country.”
“We firmly maintain our resolve to ensure that the people of this state can get the health care they need,” she said.
On Monday, a U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion draft believed to be authored by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked to Politico. Alito is purported to have written that “Roe and Casey (a related 1992 ruling) must be overturned,” and that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.”
In a later interview with Cowboy State Daily, Burkhart called the leaked draft opinion “horrific.”
Roe v. Wade in 1973 and the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 declared women had a constitutional right to an abortion through the first trimester of pregnancy, or up to viability, making the procedure legal nationally.
Wyoming is one of many states with a trigger ban in place, that is, a law banning abortions in the event that Roe V. Wade was overturned by the high court.
Under the trigger law, abortions still would be legal in Wyoming in cases involving a risk of death or extreme harm to the mother, rape, and incest.
Abortions remain legal in Wyoming because the U.S. Supreme Court has not made its ruling official and is not expected to do so for several weeks or months.
Burkhart said she and her team still are “staunchly and fully committed to offering the full spectrum of reproductive health care, including abortion” at the new clinic.
The Casper clinic is slated to be the second of two abortion clinics in the state, with the first in Jackson.
Burkhart told Cowboy State Daily that the clinic still plans to open and operate for two reasons: she and her organization intend to fight Wyoming’s trigger ban in the courts or otherwise, and the clinic will offer other types of “reproductive healthcare” and “gender-affirming” treatment.
The gender treatment to be offered at Wellspring will not include surgical alteration for gender dysphoria, though clients may be referred to outside surgeons by clinicians. Clinic organizers plan to offer counseling and hormonal treatments, said Burkhart.
Trigger Ban Signed By Governor
Marti Halverson, president of Wyoming Right To Life, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that her organization is concerned about the leak of the draft opinion, the first in the Supreme Court’s history, and hopes to see an investigation into the incident.
She also said Wyoming is poised and ready for any legal or legislative challenge to the trigger law launched by Burkhart and other proponents of abortions in the state.
Gov. Mark Gordon, noted Halverson, signed the trigger law that his attorney general would be expected to defend in the face of a legal challenge.
“We are confident that Governor Gordon is going to enforce the provisions” of the trigger ban, said Halverson, adding that the bill passed both the state Senate and House “overwhelmingly.”
Several surrounding states have trigger bans in place, but Wyoming’s southern neighbor Colorado is not one of them. Northern neighbor Montana does not have a trigger ban in place, but Guttmacher.org deemed it “likely” to ban abortion in the event of a high court reversal.